Covid-19 Virus Update #2         



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Covid-19 in East Africa


Thank you for the enormous outpouring of support in response to our Spring Update.  All of the emails, texts, donations and kind words were greatly appreciated. This is a quick update on the virus-related activities that the ladies have taken in the past few weeks.

It took just over 3 months for the African continent to reach 100,000 Covid-19 cases and then, last week, the WHO announced that the number of cases had doubled in less than 20 days, to more than 200,000 infections. It now tops 250,000 confirmed cases. Every country on the continent has recorded infections. Kenya has 3,860 cases and 105 deaths; Uganda has 724 cases and 0 deaths; Tanzania has stopped reporting virus-related statistics. A major concern is that the number of actual cases is unclear because of inadequate testing rates. 
The lock down in the countries has caused severe economic hardship. Many of our borrowers provide the main support for their families and they are trying to continue to do business in ways that are safe and acceptable. We are providing resources to help the ladies and communities weather the pandemic.

In Kenya, the ladies in the Oiti CBO, our partner organization in the Maasai Mara, conducted a very successful food distribution outreach to the women in the loan program as well as needy families in the community. The food insecurity in western Kenya is extensive. Flour, sugar, cooking oil, beans, maize, rice and greens were purchased in large quantities and divided among the households based on the number of children. The support we were able to provide was enormously helpful and the community was immensely grateful.

In Uganda, the ladies could not safely transport their agricultural products to the local markets so Olive Wolimbwa, our local director, arranged for the transport to come to them. Ladies packed their ripe tomatoes into basins and sacks, protected them with banana leaves, and delivered them to the veranda at Olive's house. Borrowers also harvested their bogoya branches (green bananas) and stacked them at the cross-roads in front of her home. At the appointed hour, the traders' trucks pulled up and thousands of pounds of produce were loaded on board and paid for on the spot. The executive staff at our headquarters donned their masks and helped manage the process. Some of our ladies are such reliable businesswomen that brokers are now going to many of their homes to pick up their bogoya branches and ship them to markets as far away as South Sudan.  In addition to arranging the produce pick-up, the team in Buyobo completed distribution of emergency aid packages to local orphans.



In Tanzania, the president has declared the virus defeated.  WMI and our local partners are the main source of information about coping with the pandemic for our borrowers and their families. We teach social distancing, hand-washing and hand out masks.  The ladies and their families are suffering from the huge reduction in tourism, which has impacted the whole country, and the closed borders with neighboring countries, where many local products are marketed.  The areas we serve are very rural and new groups of ladies that have been pre-screened in the Mto wa Mbu Ward and Esilalei Wards have asked that we go ahead with the loan issue now so that they can try to generate income.  Our local partners have determined that they can do so in a reasonably safe manner so we expect to get the funds out the door in the next two weeks.  We have decided to increase the size of the loans as the costs of inventory, supplies and transport have increased dramatically in the past month.





These are indeed trying times - particularly for women living on the edge of poverty, who depend on their business income to sustain their families. WMI is extremely grateful for all of the support provided by our donors, especially during this world crisis.  Your commitment is helping us support rural businesswomen during the pandemic and giving us the resources to get them back on their feet again.

The WMI Board of Directors 
Robyn Nietert    Betsy Gordon    Deborah Smith     Jane Erickson  
      Terry Ciccotelli     Trix Vandervossen    June Kyakobye  

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