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Opinions of Monday, 20 April 2020

Columnist: Maame Efua Sakyi-Aidoo

My thoughts on the partial lockdown and efforts to cater for the poor and needy

Maame Efua Sakyi-Aidoo, Deputy National Women Organizer, NDC presenting relief items Maame Efua Sakyi-Aidoo, Deputy National Women Organizer, NDC presenting relief items

The partial lockdown of some parts our country has a devastating impact on the income of workers (especially hawkers and petty traders) and their dependents. The lockdown is a necessary public health response to contain the spread of the pandemic but the adverse economic consequences on the poor must be addressed with a decisive action.

As a woman and a mother, I deeply feel the pain of the vulnerable mothers and children whose survival has been threatened by this global pandemic. Last Week, I joined a private sector led initiative to feed head potters and the needy in some parts of Accra. My personal experiences while sharing food and the videos I have watched all suggest that, the problem may be bigger than we visualized as a country.

While commending the private sector, I would like to call on churches, civil society organizations and individuals to make available food items to enable poor households minimize their vulnerability during the period of lockdown, but most importantly government must device proper means to reach out to most of the poorest households within the affected areas.

It is refreshing to hear that the leader and flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), H.E John Mahama has again demonstrated leadership by donating to 20,000 households within the lockdown areas. Very significant contribution that will provide a relief for many people..

So far government through the ministry of Gender has made provision for some 400,000 to be fed daily but from all indications, it is not adequate. Reports coming in also suggest some officials are unfortunately demanding NPP membership cards before dolling out relief items.

It appears some people belonging to the elephant fraternity are profiteering from this humanitarian exercise.

Some residents of Fadama have denied receipt of any kind of relief items (not in cash nor food package) since the beginning of the lockdown. So I ask, which groups of persons belong to the over 400,000 Ghanaians being fed as claimed by the government.

For the purposes of transparency and accountability, government must publish the data of the exact affected areas captured under this feeding exercise and the number of food packs allocated to these areas..

It is also sad to observe that the way and manner in which these foods are distributed is without dignity and no regard for the social distancing protocols.

Also, no adequate plans have been made for slum dwellers in areas such as Old Fadama, Obbosey Okai Zongo, Chokor,teshie, Ashiaman and the likes. They still do not have access to potable water, how do they survive a pandemic that has washing one’s hand regularly as a chief protocol? I do not see clear cut relief measures to support these vulnerable households.

As we bear witness to the knee-jerk approach in tackling this crisis, we can conclude that much of the shortsightedness guiding official responses to this crisis will not solve but rather compound the problem(Here I will recommend to Akufo Addo and his minister to study the comprehensive documents submitted by the NDC COVID-19 team of experts), But that notwithstanding I will urge all Ghanaians to demand accountability and transparency from government to avoid undeserving elements benefiting from this crisis.

In the meantime, I will continue to appeal to all Ghanaians to stay safe, be critical of our personal hygiene and strictly adhere to the World Health Organizations protocols. STAY SAFE , STAY HOME , STOP THE SPREAD.