Supporting African grassroots action against COVID-19
Updated: Apr 13
Spirit in Action is part of a collection of organizations that are looking at new ways to give grants that support a bottom-up approach. The message below is from Solomé Lemma, Executive Director of Thousand Currents, a leader in this collective. Her words so perfectly capture what we are seeing with SIA partners during this time. (Scroll to the end to read about the action Spirit in Action is taking right now in Kenya!)
“As we continue to grapple with the impact of COVID-19 globally, we know that this pandemic will exacerbate existing inequities and injustices. It will further marginalize those who are already vulnerable both in the United States and beyond in the Global South.
“We have heard from our grassroots partners around the world and they need our support today. Our first action is to launch an emergency fund to respond to their immediate needs:
Information– communities lack access to quality information on how to better protect themselves. Mass media does not reach remote communities and when information is available, it is not translated into Indigenous languages.
Health- Already under-resourced rural communities cannot afford the healthcare services COVID-19 requires. The limited healthcare infrastructures lack adequate people and resources necessary to combat the pandemic.
Work– For many, social distancing comes at the cost of livelihoods. Farmers are not able to sell their produce at markets. Many small community leaders and organizers have lost jobs and income sources. Grassroots groups and movements have had to postpone or cancel community organizing activities.
Infrastructure– Social distancing is difficult in informal settlements and other under-resourced communities where people live closely together with limited access to power, roads, clean water, and sanitation.
Safety– There are implications to social distancing and limited mobility when home is not safe. There is increasing militarization and surveillance, which can signal distress for social movements and limit the ways in which they organize.
“Despite these challenges, our partners are the first responders in their communities. They are going above and beyond reaching places that NGOS and governments are not. They are drawing from existing mutual-aid practices to identify and support vulnerable community members. Just like our grassroots partners, we at Thousand Currents are also committed to going above and beyond during this challenging time for all of us.”
What Spirit in Action is doing:
Wambui Nguyo and Romano Iluku are both SIA Small Business Fund leaders in Nairobi.
Spirit in Action is also going above and beyond by creating an emergency fund to support the immediate needs of our grassroots partners and their communities in Kenya and Uganda.
Over the weekend we transferred $1,200 to three grant partners in Nairobi. One of these groups was e-CATS (Empower Communities as Actors for Transforming Societies), which has distributed emergency food relief to the most vulnerable, needy families in Kibera informal settlements.
Anna Wanna Mukinya proudly shows her notecard which lists her as 87 years old! 95% of those who received food are women who are heads of household.
“A majority of this population survive daily on hand to mouth, relying on casual jobs and daily sales. Now with reduced movements and activities in Kenya today, these populations are stuck in their houses in dire situations. Most of them have been passing days half-fed for lack of work and low purchasing power,” reports Mathew Obonyo, Program officer at e-CATS team. Each of the 38 households (which represent 52 adults and over 121 children) received 20lbs wheat flour, 20lbs Maize Flour, 5lbs Rice and 1 liter of cooking oil.
Flour prepared to be distributed
In this moment, we are standing in true solidarity with our grant partners. People all around the world are sharing feelings of economic strain and fear. I pray that we can also share our resilience, strength, and love. You can donate to this emergency fund here and we’ll send the funds directly to where they can be used immediately. Thank you.