Low income families and communities speak out on the impacts of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Strategy and Innovation for Development Initiative (SI4DEV) launched the N5Million SI4DEV COVID-19 Response Fund on April 2, 2020 in a bid to get ahead of the envisaged societal unrest and healthcare overload that could result from a pandemic response without adequate social protection.

The NGO set up the Fund to support awareness of COVID-19 and its prevention, and to sponsor response and recovery activities for the most vulnerable populations and for grassroots health care workers.

According to the managing trustee of the NGO, Mrs. Nkem Akinsoto, “the results have proved that SI4DEV was right to start with a very rapid response to the pandemic, ahead of most government and private sector palliatives”.

50 volunteers are currently working in 25 communities including Alimosho and Mushin in Lagos state, Uyo and Ikot Epene in Akwa Ibom state, Osogbo, Abuja, Makurdi, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Jos and Lokoja.

Other locations are Fagge and Nasarawa LGA in Kano state, Aba and Umuahia in Abia state, Kaduna, Benin City, Ilorin, Ibadan, Owerri, Sagamu, Minna, Onitsha, Gombe, and Yenogoa.

These volunteers are reaching out to about 20 families in each of these places with food and hygiene supplies. Over 1000 men, women and children were sensitized to prevent COVID-19.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was also donated to medical professionals at 2 health centers, and facilities for handwashing placed in 3 public areas.

In several communities, food recipients got emotional, some of them were shocked that they were getting palliative from a non-governmental organization and could not stop tears of joy.

Many said they literally had nothing to eat the next day, the women were becoming desperate that they could not provide adequate meals to their children.

An elderly sick man, who spoke in hausa to SI4DEV volunteers in Kaduna, said he was grateful for the support.

According to him since he became sick, he could no longer farm to provide for his family and the lockdown made matters worse because his family cannot visit or buy him food.

In Makurdi, the family of Abraham Ngufan, a primary school teacher and a driver in his spare time was one of the beneficiaries. He has five children and is the sole provider.

He said things have been very bad for them as a result of the lock down because schools have been shut down and movement have been restricted.

Mrs. Evelyn, 36 who lives in a batcher made of planks and used roofing sheets with her husband, daughter and son was an SI4DEV beneficiary in Karu Abuja.

Mrs. Evelyn is deaf and sustains the family by going from one household to the other washing clothes in exchange for little pay.

The husband only earns when he serves masons where there is a new construction. With the shutdown, that opportunity is lost.

In their condition, the family is trying their best to see their kids through primary school, but the shutdown means they are missing out on education that can make their future better.

When asked how they feel about the intervention, the couple said they were grateful to the organization for the food items as they will go a long way in sustaining them for a while but hopes the pandemic passes by soon so they can support their family.

SI4DEV is also hopeful and calls on the government to urgently review and adjust the current lockdown policy to better cater to low income people in the local context of the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath.

SI4DEV also encourages well-meaning Nigerians to reach out to those around them who need help in one way or another.

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