GER worked with communities to fight food problems as one of COVID-19 effects

The Coronavirus pandemic has had negative impacts on the socioeconomic lifestyle of communities due to blockage of typical employments, some prohibited businesses and movements during the country lockdowns to contain the spread of virus.

Despite the government having tried to calm the situation by setting fixed food prices and allowing the transportation of food, the situation has affected Rwandan food market especially on perishable goods like vegetables, for the loss of market and scarcity in rural and urban areas respectively. The most affected are vulnerable families of the elderly, the disabled and most poor. 

It is with this regard that GER has collaborated with the African Biodiversity Network (ABN) as a partner to help them find strategies to cope with the impact of Covid-19 within their communities. Thanks to funds from the AgroEcology Fund’s emergency response, over the last few months, GER has been able to support people who faced extreme poverty, hunger and other food related problems directly caused by Covid-19.

In urban and semi-urban places, GER provided food to 50 vulnerable people including to elders and people with disabilities. Goods provided included maize flour, beans, oil alongside with hygiene materials to help reduce the transmission of the virus. They were distributed in collaboration with local authorities and community leaders as they know the vulnerable in the specific locations of the project.

A woman playing her role to solve food problems(photo by GER,Bugesera 2020)

“We thank you for this food support it is going to save us from hunger; we really did not believe that there are people who think about us,” said one of the beneficiaries.
In the rural areas of Bugesera , Muhanga and Ruhango, 250 households have been supported through seeds and other cultivating materials to assist with food production. This will not only provide food for the household but also contribute to agro-ecology and nature conservation.

“We are doing these activities which will help us to find food for our families, meanwhile these activities also bring us together which help us to improve relations and heal the past. We thank GER and its partners. We will use these materials to carry on agroecology activities and they will give good production that will satisfy our families and community markets,” said Karangwa, a resident of Bugesera District. “These activities also bring us together which helps us to improve relations and heal the past based on the history of the 1994 genocide.”

One of the elders contributing to food problems resolution during covid19 period (photo by GER,Bugesera 2020)

Elders and people with disabilities also requested that they be included in the domestic farming program because it can help them to feel considered as able to contribute. “Even though we are old, or others have disabilities, we can also contribute with our knowledge and skills…share information with youth about our indigenous knowledge of conservation.” They said that being included in these activities is a good way of interacting with young generation.

Executive Director of GER, Innocent Musore said that the support is aimed at strengthening joint efforts with the government and its partners to support vulnerable households and communities against the impact of Covid-19. “We will continue to support the community in times of need not only by providing food for the household but also contribute to agroecology and nature conservation. We will help elders and youth in facilitating knowledge transfer and bridging knowledge gap within generations.”

The GER-AEF project is reaching 300 households in five districts, translating to over 1,500 beneficiaries. When communities are practicing their domestic farming activities, they also have time to share ideas of healing the past towards reconciliation, so the benefits are much deeper.

GER will continue to work with communities, elders and youth to facilitate knowledge transfer and bridging knowledge gap within generations. “We keep documenting community resilience stories in coping with Covid-19,” explains Musore.

The sample of food support distributed to 50 vulnerable families(photo by GER,Gasabo 2020)