Tearfund, a Christian charity organisation, has indicated that while the outbreak of coronavirus could be devastating for Zimbabwe, it was hunger that many citizens feared posed a dire and immediate danger.
Zimbabwe is currently on a 35-day national lockdown which is intended to curb and contain the novel coronavirus pandemic. Globally, the virus has infected over 3,271,567 people and killed more than 231,251 lives as of Thursday, April 30. Locally, COVID-19 has infected forty and claimed four lives with a record of 5 recoveries.
Sadly for the Southern African country, the shutdown comes at a time when much of the SADC region is facing severe droughts caused by the climate crisis. As a result, many families struggling to feed themselves, couple that with a deepening economic crisis bringing soaring food prices, stagnant salaries, water shortages and daily power blackouts.
In the last few weeks there has also been a rise in the number of malaria cases reported, with 201 outbreaks in different parts of the country, according to Ministry of Health.
Citizens who spoke to Tearfund revealed that while they would have loved to observe the government’s directives to stay at home, the fear of starving their families was creeping them.
‘The real danger for us is hunger. If I stay at home as recommended by the government, my family will starve. Who will feed them?’ Jonas, a father of three in Harare, was quoted by the charity.
Another citizen only identified as a 36-year-old Tafadzwa, the coronavirus has left people stretched.
‘Our nets are completely empty and this will only make things worse. The struggle is real in Zimbabwe and it seems it’s never good news for us,’ he told the Tearfund.
Tearfund’s Country Director for Zimbabwe, Earnest Maswera lamented the state of things in the country.
‘If it was just the disease I guess we could find somewhere to start from, but then the disease has brought with it a lockdown – a real lockdown – and this is so hard for people,’ said Maswera.
Deputy Country Director Idzai Murimba echoed similar sentiments but also highlighted that there was a hope that God can intervene.
‘We were praying and hoping that 2020 will be the year when God will usher us into a new season of rebuilding in Zimbabwe, but it seems that’s not the case. On the other hand, there is hope that God can intervene in a way that spares the nation from the worst possible scenario.’
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis, Tearfund has been working with their partner organisations in Zimbabwe to reach out to those in need.
Their efforts so far have included distributing cash to vulnerable families who can’t buy food or basic necessities, sharing information on how to prevent the spread of the disease, building water tanks, providing soap and encouraging handwashing.
They have also spoken out against the dangers of gender-based violence, which is more likely during lockdown; and helping survivors to be able to access support.
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