Oxfam Rescues Vulnerable Women Hit by COVID-19

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Some of the Catastrophe ‘’CAT’’ Fund Project beneficiaries, funded by Oxfam Liberia

Oxfam in Liberia, in collaboration with Community Healthcare Initiative and West Point Women for Health and Development Organization, has provided a social safety net cash transfer program to three hundred vulnerable women and girls in Liberia under the Catastrophe (CAT) Fund Project.

Each of the beneficiaries received US$109.50 along with a mobile phone to solve some extreme hardship that has been caused by COVID-19 on Women and girls.

Those who benefited from the safety net cash transfer are women living in extreme poverty as well as those whose sources of income have been hit by the shock created due to the pandemic. The cash transfer program aims to minimize the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 on invulnerable women and girls in the country.

Naomi Tulay-Solanke, Executive Director of the Community Healthcare Initiative, said over the past two months they have been actively engaged with low-income families and those whose livelihoods were affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the State of Emergency.

She said with support from Oxfam, they have been able to support single mothers, women who have suffered sexual and gender-based violence, among others. That is why they are able to work with three hundred women.

Tulay-Solanke said the program is intended to shift power to vulnerable women by giving those cash to invest in their own businesses or make whatever decision that will better their lives.

She said, “We first started to take their children’s mobile money number but we could not send the money to [the women] because they will not have access. So we went back to Oxfam and asked them to provide a mobile phone for all the beneficiaries to have them have access to their own mobile money accounts, not to send their monies to their children’s accounts, which was done successfully and they have their money now.”

Tulay-Solanke said they did not only give the phone to get mobile money, but they were also able to build their communication skills to enable them report SGBV cases and even call 4455 in case of emergency.

Nelly Cooper, head of the West Point Women for Health and Development Organization, said they are working with women in all slum communities to ensure that their lives are improved.

She said with support from OXFAM; they have put a smile on the faces of women who were severly hit by the deadly COVID-19 virus.

Meanwhile, 58 year-old Esther Zeon is among several beneficiaries explaining the impact of the program on the survival of their families.

Esther expressed gratitude to OXFAM in Liberia for being able to understand the difficulties they go through since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She promised to use the money for its intended purpose, calling on the government and other well-meaning institutions to follow the excellent example of Oxfam if women must be empowered to get on par with men.

Shah Liton, Oxfam in Liberia Country Director, said the institution is aware of the Coronavirus pandemic that has affected the entire world; caused thousands of deaths, interruption of economic activities including livelihoods and has also caused severe impacts to the economy of nations, of which Liberia is no exemption.

Liton said the effect of the pandemic has also largely affected Liberia with its already poor economy. Therefore, Oxfam in Liberia and partners have committed to supporting the government’s efforts through Oxfam’s overall programming in addressing inequalities and seeking to address injustices that deepen inequalities.

He said the CAT Fund Project aims to ensure that vulnerable households can safely continue to access food and other basic needs to save lives and to be able to protect themselves from contracting the virus while earning their daily bread and thus live a quality life.

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