Though the spread of coronavirus in Africa lags behind that in Europe or the USA, a catastrophic effect is predicted, especially in townships, slums and camps, because so many live closely in already unhygienic conditions.
Most African countries are locked down and present a sad picture – daily labourers cannot get to work in the fields to harvest the food needed, so are not paid and have no food. Because food is scarce, people flout the lockdown in order to find some.
The Barnabas Fund has formed an emergency committee to monitor how coronavirus impacts around the world, assessing how best to support the vulnerable. An extensive network of partners is already in place to provide regular updates.
Partners include, among others, ten Anglican provinces, five theological institutions, GAFCON, Anglican International Development and EFAC (the Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion).
An Africa-wide committee will: assist in deploying relief and assistance; gather information; make needs known; source finance and supplies; and ensure secure distribution. Its goal is to enable Christian communities to remain in existence with a working leadership that can collaborate with other bodies, local administration and governments to deliver resources, care and comfort.
Archbishop Ben Kwashi, General Secretary of GAFCON, has issued a video to encourage people to: Believe the virus can be defeated, wash their hands and stay home.
The committee will identify the priority needs and areas for the following assistance: food relief especially for those on daily wages who have no income; pastors’ salaries for those dependent on weekly tithes, since churches cannot meet; hygiene materials e.g. thousands of masks to protect health workers and others exposed to the virus.
The committee will also identify secure distribution centres for food, funds and supplies.
The international director of Barnabas Fund, the Very Revd Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, Managing Director of the committee, draws attention to the need to secure trucks and warehouses from attack, to ensure funds are released from banks, and to protect individuals carrying large amounts of cash or food, who are vulnerable.
The Barnabas Fund webpage: barnabasfund.org/en/coronavirus contains relevant information from the global network, updated project needs and news relevant to Covid-19 as they impact God’s people.