Covid-19 : FXB Update in Africa

Posted on 25 March 2020

FXB International is closely monitoring the evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic in every country where we intervene in Africa and elsewhere in order to protect the beneficiaries of our programs and our teams in the field. It should be noted that the situation is evolving very quickly.

Please find below an update on the latest developments of the Covid-19 pandemic in the countries where FXB operates in Africa.

FXB Burundi

Situation: No official cases reported at this stage. Some journalists believe that this may not be the case, as Burundi’s borders are porous, and infected people may go undetected given Burundi’s fragile health system. Visas are no longer being issued to foreigners, but the airport is still open and links with other countries are still being established. Nationals of several EU countries are automatically quarantined at the Source du Nil Hotel. Gatherings are not yet banned. The government is promoting preventive measures such as stopping handshakes and washing hands. 

FXB team: All were duly informed, a hand washing station was installed at the entrance of the office, and the respect of social distance set up. 

In the field: As a security measure for both staff and beneficiaries, FXB Gve has taken the decision to cease all field activities as of March 23rd and for two weeks 

FXB Uganda

Situation: 14 confirmed case of COVID-19 reported at this stage – border shutdown, schools, bars and churches closed – public gatherings are no longer allowed. 

In the field: Training sessions on WASH have been suspended. PUR products for water treatment are given directly to the leaders of the beneficiary groups and to the directors of schools and health centers who then distribute them. 

FXB Namibia

Situation: 7 confirmed cases of COVID-19 of foreign tourists. Schools are closed. The government has declared a state of emergency and is disseminating information on “barrier gestures” to limit the spread of the virus. Offices, banks and shops are still open. 

HISA/FXB Team: All have been duly informed. Some of them are residents of the overcrowded slum where we are working and they have been given hand sanitizers to protect themselves. The office has been closed to the public. 

In the field: Apart from the messages that are posted in the local clinics or broadcast on local radio and television, there is little or no information in this slum. The team visits each family to inform them in their mother tongue (the slum is populated by many different ethnic groups with no common language) so that they understand all aspects of the pandemic and distribute soap and water. Materials were also distributed to community centres. These materials are already depleted.

FXB South Africa

Situation: 554 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The country will be in total lockdown by tomorrow. There is still a high percentage of people who believe that the corona virus is a “white” disease and that it cannot affect them, and there are many urban myths that give false hope and lead people to believe that they are invincible. 

FXB team: All have been duly informed and are working from home. 

In the field: All activities in the schools have been suspended. As soon as the virus appeared in China, the FXB team reinforced activities related to hygiene and especially hand washing. Posters on “barrier gestures” were placed in classrooms and each child in our programs was personally instructed to protect themselves (and signed a “good understanding” document) and instructed to share them with their families and communities. FXB has also trained the principals and teachers of the schools in which we operate, strongly encouraging them to disseminate the information in turn. If school activities are suspended, the children remain in daily contact with us via skype or whatsapp. Before the schools closed, they received food supplements and, for Children headed families, larger food parcels and a little money. All of them also received bars of soap so that they could continue to practice this barrier gesture of hand washing. For the record, many parents complained that the children washed their hands too often and that they did not have enough money to buy more soap. 

FXB Rwanda

Situation: at this stage, 40 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Rwanda. The government has taken drastic measures to prevent its spread: border closures and blocked movement between the different districts, confinement of its population, systematic temperature taking, schools and non-essential businesses closed. The level of understanding of the situation is relatively low in rural areas. All these measures of social distancing run counter to customs and habits. Moreover, the virus is perceived as a disease of wealthy people who can afford to travel, since 36 of the recorded cases were infected abroad, notably in the USA, Germany, Italy or France. 

FXB team: all have been duly informed. 

In the field: all FXB employees are confined to their homes. They are obviously in daily contact with the beneficiaries and the managers of the Savings, Credit and Support Groups through telephone interviews – or by WhatsApp when possible. The idea is to keep them informed of the situation, to provide them with all the useful information on the “barrier gestures” to adopt to protect themselves from the virus and to encourage them to strictly adhere to the standards put in place by the government. They are also available for any questions related to the program’s activities.