The virus COVID-19 has threatened to put the whole world at a stand-still but the world has to move on regardless. Local organizations have always been at the fore-front to raise alarms and awareness to crisis and responding to emergencies due to their proximity to and close relationships with affected relationships with affected populations, often risking lives. At this time with travel restrictions for safety precautions, the majority of the response to COVID-19 and other crisis will be delivered by local respondent.
Being a local organization, NEXUS’ civic duty is to “flatten the curve” of any COVID-19 outbreak in Somalia and respond to any developing pandemic in Somalia. NEXUS plans to carry out a coordinated response with public health messages to the community that are verified translated as well as relaying mitigation strategies on COVID-19. Also dismissing myths and misinformation about the virus.
Somalia is at a high risk of experiencing uncontrollable and overwhelming spread of the virus. With its weak health system,government collapse, two famines and almost 30 years of conflict, COVID-19 is the biggest threat that would immensely affect their population. In addition, the communities have been facing poor nutrition conditions, inadequate food, clean water and proper sanitation and lack of knowledge about disease transmission.
The COVID-19 crisis may have unparalleled impact on the health of Somalis and also lead to global economic crisis cut offs effects in Somalia like food insecurity. Somalia is one of the few post-conflict fragile countries that depends heavily on remittances from diaspora. As countries closed and continue to close their borders and businesses, upcoming high unemployment rates will directly impact remittance flow that acts as the backbone of Somali economy to which they get to purchase food and get access to health and education. Many are already feeling the impact of their relatives contracting the virus or losing their jobs/ source of income while others would not be able to afford to stay in isolation at home as they have to earn a living for their families.
Unfortunately, the crisis has also put pressure on donor countries to reduce their foreign aid but we urge them to continue to prioritize funding to save the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable communities especially in Somalia. In addition to the immediate action that NEXUS is taking, we are making the following recommendations:
- While we must provide technical and financial support to the government-led response, we must also acknowledge that their limited to undertake a nationwide COVID-19 response. Therefore,we recommend that local organizations acting as first respondent, work in conjunction with the government counterparts at national, regional and local levels. Local actors should be involved in the development of COVID-19 response plans including decision making processes led by the Ministry of Health.
- Given the situation in Somalia, we also need to ensure that all other existing programs such as food security are not at risk due to lack of human capacity of international agencies. Therefore,we will involve local actors to the existing programs to lead and implement in conjunction with relevant government ministries and use this crisis to build sustainable
- We urge International NGOs and UN agencies to offer unrestricted funding and general support to local organizations to be able to cater for unplanned needs, ensure business continuity and to enhance organizational resilience to the medium-long term effects of the global pandemic.
- The local front line workers helping out in communities should receive similar training as health care workers from training and personal protective equipment to protect themselves and communities from transmissions while in the field.
- As we make response plans, we should consider local realities which are:
- As much as cash transfers are the most dignified and flexible transfers that we aim to continue providing, we need to ensure that there’s a consistent flow of food supply. Imported food should continue to come into Somali markets and the food prices should be evaluated since the prices are increasing and there are grant adjustments that reflect these changes.
- Somali communities, in particularly the densely populated areas such as urban communities and IDP camps, lack access to basic water and sanitation services,therefore, we should continue to provide these services and increase access to WASH services as a matter of urgency.
- IDP groups that live in overcrowded makeshift houses are finding impossible to practice social distancing, self-isolation/ quarantine. Therefore, it is important to create separate spaces or tents in each IDP camp so as to control the spread and flatten the curve of COVID-19 transmission cases.