There is a growing COVID crisis in Africa. Last year, when the pandemic seemed to be at its worst, we gave thanks that the virus largely had spared the African continent while mourning the virus’ effect on much of the rest of the world. This year, even as life has returned to some semblance of normal in the United States, we’ve watched in despair as the case count has increased in several African countries.
These words from Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, Africa Director of the World Health Organization, sums the situation up quite simply.
“The third wave is picking up speed, spreading faster, hitting harder. With rapidly rising case numbers and increasing reports of serious illness, the latest surge threatens to be Africa’s worst yet.”
Uganda is one of those countries. This summer, Uganda has faced a dramatic rise in COVID-19 infections, a vaccine shortage, and a strict lockdown. Markets have been shut and the economy has essentially come to a halt. Ugandans are understandably scared; their health is at risk, their livelihoods threatened, and many are struggling to feed their families.
Uganda went through this last year, and our teams know the drill. We know what safety precautions to take to protect staff and clients. We also know how hopeless life seems for so many. And we know FINCA can offer hope and some relief to families struggling with loss, hardship, and fear.
That’s why we re-launched the FINCA Emergency Response Fund this summer. We stand ready to respond to our clients’ needs in this time of crisis, and incredible partners like you stand with us to make our emergency response work possible.
BrightLife, our clean energy enterprise, is using support from the FINCA Emergency Response Fund to ensure the well-being of our staff and clients and the continuity of our essential service.
Even as the COVID crisis in Africa rages, BrightLife uses sustainable solar lighting to empower women and girls so they can further their education.
We’re making sure our clients have uninterrupted access to energy at home and at their businesses. And we’re giving free energy to families facing hardship, so that they can prioritize buying food and medicine without worrying about living in the dark and being cut off from the outside world.
We’re also supporting our sales agents, whose important work expanding clean energy access will resume after the lockdown. And we’re procuring COVID-19 tests, protective equipment, and safe transportation for our technical support staff, who continue to work.
Meanwhile FINCA Uganda, our microfinance program, will be able to offer “payment holidays” to borrowers who need time to rebuild their business. They will continue to make it easier for clients to apply for loans without coming into a branch office. And as at BrightLife, we’ll ensure that staff have access to tests and personal protective equipment.
Most importantly, across both programs we will continue to use the strong rapport that we have with clients to deliver critical public safety messaging. We’ll provide them with accurate, up to date information about COVID-19 and the Delta variant. And we’ll make sure that they have the latest information about vaccine safety and availability.
COVID-19 threatens to disrupt lives in Uganda and beyond for months to come. But with supporters like you and a global network working tirelessly to reduce poor families’ burdens in this difficult time, we know our clients can survive this crisis as they have so many others.. Thank you for partnering with us in this important, pressing work.