The German charity, Welthungerhilfe (WHH) says following recent disruption of its relief distribution exercise in Matadi Estate, Monrovia by huge crowd refrusing to observe social distancing, it introduced new measuresto avoid the gathering of people in large numbers during the distribution process onwards.
In a press release, Welthungerhilfesays it deeply regrets the situation and has learned from the experience.
It details that the new strategy is designed in the way that tickets which are already stamped and labelled with numbers, dates and time to pick up the package, are issued to heads of households by staff together with community leader(s) a day ahead of the distribution of relief.
The release continues that during the distribution, five persons will be called via mobile phone from their respective houses at a time to receive their package each.
“This measure will go with 50 persons per day with communities of 250 targets and 40 per day for communities with 125 targets to avoid overcrowding. This was tested on Wednesday, 15th April by our team and has proven to be working well.”
Welthungerhilfesays it will continue to observe all regulations put in place by the Government of Liberia while respecting the do-no-harm principle of the Core Humanitarian Standards (CHS) in rendering support to communities during this difficult time of the emergency.
The distribution of handwashing kits is part of the support Welthungerhilfe is extending to the Government of Liberia in its efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
On 11th April, the institution donated three used vehicles (2 Renault saloon cars and a hard-top 4×4 Toyota Landcruiser) to the Ministry of Health for scaling up Surveillance and Contact Tracing on COVID-19. It is currently renovating Dormitory Block #3 of 52 rooms at the University of Liberia, Fendell Campus at a cost of nearly $30,000USD (Thirty Thousand United States Dollars) to be used as Quarantine Center by the Ministry of Health during the emergency.
Welthungerhilfesays as a long-standing partner of the government and people of Liberia, it is committed to support the fight against the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
As one of Germany’s biggest private organizations for development and humanitarian aid, Welthungerhilfe is working with four pillars (WASH, Logistics, Risk Communication and Community Engagement) at the Incident Management System (IMS), a body constituted by the Government of Liberia to manage the COVID-19 response.
It recently started the distribution of handwashing kits (buckets, clorox and powder soap) to households of communities approved by the WASH Pillar in Montserrado and Margibi Counties, respectively.
According to the release, benefiting communities in Montserrado County include – Barnesville Estate, New Georgia Estate, Old Matadi Estate, and Nancy Doe/Jorkpen Town. Others are: Jallah’s Town, Rock Crusher (GSA Community), Stephen Tolbert Estate, Nicklay Town and 72nd Barracks.
Communities in Margibi County include – New Kakata, Old Kakata, BWI Community, Duahzon, Marshall and 15th Gate Community. The distribution exercise is planned to potentially extend to Grand Gedeh, River Gee and Maryland Counties.
This humanitarian effort of Welthungerhilfe came under serious criticism on 14th April in Old Matadi Estate when several viewers of a live Facebook screening on Spoon TV mentioned in comments the failure of adherence to government’s protocols on social distancing by residents of the community under the watch of Welthungerhilfe.
“It is important to clarify that Welthungerhilfe as a global humanitarian organization stands for ‘Do No Harm principles’ and cannot act in a way that endangers beneficiaries as well as our own staffs.
The measures of safety were in place and the distribution was ongoing well until when there was a huge turnout of people who chose not to follow the protocols on the ground. This led to the immediate shutdown of the distribution up until things were put under control by the local leadership of the community”, the release clarifies.