Street Child Assesses COVID-19 Impact on Communities

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By Tina S. Mehnpaine

Street Child of Liberia (SCOL), a local non-governmental organization providing education for vulnerable and street-connected children, has released results of  COVID-19 assessment conducted to understand the needs and gaps in the provision of assistance delivery to 1019 households.

The survey was conducted from 7th to 11th May 2020 in four counties – Montserrado, Maryland, Margibi, and Grand Cape Mount – and was aimed at knowing the current coping strategies and community needs.

SCOL is also involved with child protection and livelihood opportunities through small business schemes for parents and caregivers.

Andrew G. Tehmeh, SCOL Country Director, said that from the national data, 97.4% of people targeted claimed they have gotten information through the radio, friends, and community dwellers how to prevent the virus.

“Sadly for us, 15% of our respondents in Grand Cape Mount said that they have not received any information to date, though in other counties there are more than 1% who do not know about COVID-19.”

Mr. Tehmeh said poor people are most at risk of experiencing serious harm from the pandemic, while women, children, and those with pre-existing health problems are the most group in terms of vulnerability.

He also said 60% of people in all 4 counties feel hunger and starvation as a result of the pandemic. Also, the lack of learning and recreation opportunities for students is having a huge negative impact on the residents.

According to the Country Director, the outbreak of COVID-19 has brought a high level of food insecurity and, as a result, people are now restricting their daily meals.

“Homes that could afford three meals per day have reduced it to one, while some are borrowing from friends and family members,” said the SCOL Director.

Ernest Lavi Lincoln, SCOL Communications Director, said since the outbreak in March 2020, they have been engaged with community dwellers, creating preventive measures awareness and distributing sanitary materials.

“We distributed 710 sanitary items to caregivers and parents in four counties, which include but not limited to hand washing buckets, detergent powder (tide soap) and Chloral and hand sanitizer,” Lincoln said.

He noted that when there is rightful information dissemination among communities and the youthful population on the existence and prevention of the pandemic, it will serve as the most powerful weapon to fight COVID-19.

Mr. Lincoln also said that SCOL has produced COVID-19 messages in 14 dialects, including Fula and Mandingo.

“So far we are the only NGO to produce coronavirus message in our local vernacular,” he said.

Additionally, he said as part of efforts to reduce the risk of teenage pregnancy for girls, they have entered into a partnership with DKT to provide free oral contraceptive (family planning) pills.

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