Rwanda, Africa: The Response to COVID-19

In rural southern Rwanda, Global Development Group, Foxglove Project and AEE Rwanda partner on project J778 Grassroots Rwanda, support the poorest women in remote villages into woman’s self help groups (SHG). Over the last five years, more than 16,000 women have joined a SHG which is a lifetime commitment!

But the present challenge is Covid-19. John Kalenzi from AEE Rwanda reminds us that although the country is in lockdown, it is impossible for the poor to fully comply. They are not contract or salary workers but casual labourers, largely working in the fields and most often living on a subsistence basis. The women in the SHGs are similarly reliant on income and food from agriculture. Remaining in the home and keeping social distance is not only difficult but puts a family into hardship and malnutrition.

AEE Rwanda is responding by implementing a large-scale communication and action plan that will try to bridge the communication gap with health advice, enable appropriate social connection and provide direct assistance. Infrastructure such as social media and internet access is unreliable and too costly for many of the women, so the response needs to be local and personal.

We know that many of our projects are grappling with the same challenges. Let’s watch, listen and learn from one another as we seek to help the poorest communities face this uncertain time with hope and possibilities.

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