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‘If the West is finding it so challenging to contain this crisis, then we would be in very bad shape because our systems are very, very weak; almost non-existent. It is very scary.’
Since its emergence in December 2019, Coronavirus has spread to nearly every country in the world. While the virus has been slow to spread through African countries, many health experts fear an inevitable outbreak may be catastrophic for the continent. For All We Can’s local Cameroonian partners, the emerging threat of Coronavirus is one that may have devastating consequences. Sophie French, All We Can’s Interim Partnership Manager for Cameroon and Team Administrator, interviewed Vincent Folefac Anu, Chief Executive of a local organisation All We Can partners with, to find out more about the emerging threat of Coronavirus in Cameroon.
‘We see the pictures and the commentaries from out there in the West, it is scary,’ Vincent said. Vincent and his colleagues work to improve the socio-economic status of vulnerable women, and raise awareness of women’s rights in Cameroon. It is undeniable that this work will be impeded by the outbreak, as in Vincent’s words, not only will Coronavirus ‘affect the humanitarian crisis that was already here in Cameroon,’ but ‘it may produce more conflict.’ Quite simply, ‘if the situation gets worse, the question is – how will fragile and vulnerable populations survive?’
At the time of writing, Cameroon is currently central Africa’s most affected country with 730 confirmed cases and 10 confirmed deaths from Coronavirus. Vincent explained that the situation is evolving very quickly, and people in the communities All We Can support are worried that there are many more cases than the government is declaring. Their ability to carry out testing is limited, and social behaviours are slow to change. Vincent and his colleagues have been preparing for the inevitable time when Coronavirus reaches the communities they work in by scaling up response initiatives; printing and distributing messages on disease prevention to communities; and training local people on good handwashing and hygiene practices. ‘When it gets worse and worse we plan to be part of the action, and see what we can do to contribute to improving the situation,’ Vincent said.
I asked Vincent if he could see any hope in this situation, or if Coronavirus might bring about any positive change. He responded that there was already an increased consciousness around good hygiene practices within local communities. Vincent also saw hope in how the Cameroonian government have responded to this crisis; ‘the government is making an effort to communicate on the regular basis. This is not the kind of thinking we have in our country, so I hope it becomes a lasting part of government, to be more proactive.’
Like every partner that All We Can works with, the communities we serve in Cameroon face an uncertain future. Your support ensures that they do not have to face it alone. You can donate to our Emergency Coronavirus Appeal here, to help communities across the globe combat Coronavirus.
Sophie is All We Can’s Programmes and Partnerships Officer – Safeguarding Lead. Since completing a Master’s degree in International Development, she has been committed to taking action against inequality and injustice.