As Mozambique mourns hundreds of recent deaths from COVID-19, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is helping 1,000 of the country’s most vulnerable families protect themselves against the virus and maintain their livelihoods despite the disruptions of the pandemic.
Mozambique, ranked by the International Monetary Fund as one of the 10 poorest countries in the world, experienced its worst spike in coronavirus cases and deaths in the summer of 2021, according to the World Health Organization. With less than 5 percent of people fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as reported by Reuters, the population remains susceptible to additional waves of infection.
“The situation is very difficult in our country,” Primrose Karuma, health advisor for ADRA in Mozambique, said. “The financial hardships and loss of life caused by the pandemic are pushing people even further into poverty. That is why we are launching a new project called ‘Together Once More Against COVID-19 to combat this disease and its effects.”
To respond to the crisis, ADRA will distribute hygiene kits containing masks, hand sanitizers, and liquid soap to vulnerable families and individuals in the southern part of the country. Each kit includes a bucket with a tap to create a simple hand-washing station. Trained ADRA volunteers, including the health ministry's directors of local Seventh-day Adventist churches, will share accurate information about basic sanitation practices and COVID-19 prevention.
In the Boane district, the project will target 500 vendors at high risk of contracting COVID-19 as they interact with the public. In the Matutuíne district, ADRA will assist 500 of the most vulnerable households, especially those headed by women or children.
ADRA’s support goes well beyond meeting the immediate need for better sanitation. ADRA will help the vendors find alternative ways of doing business to minimize their exposure to COVID-19, such as operating from home rather than in public markets, and train them in new ways of generating income, especially mask making.
To improve nutrition for the 500 vulnerable households, ADRA will help them establish home gardens using climate-smart agriculture. The families will receive start-up vegetable seed kits and learn to grow crops such as pumpkins that are resilient to droughts and provide high nutritional value with minimum time and labor requirements.
“Our goal is to have 500 home gardens growing and producing by the end of the year,” Karuma said. “With ADRA’s assistance, these families will be better equipped to feed and support themselves even after the pandemic.”
Educating the Public About COVID-19
ADRA is also launching a public information campaign in the Boane and Matutuíne districts to educate the districts’ three million citizens on the best ways to protect themselves against COVID-19.
“Boane and Matutuíne are remote, and the people do not have easy access to correct information about COVID-19 prevention and vaccination because it is not available in their native language or because they have low literacy levels,” Karuma said. “ADRA is working to fill these significant knowledge gaps.”
About half of the people in Mozambique do not speak or understand Portuguese, the country’s official language. The literacy rate is only 28 percent for women and 60 percent for men, according to USAID.
ADRA will distribute information through audio messages in the local languages, Xangana and Ronga, to reach these underserved populations. The messages will be broadcast on radio and be readily accessible on people’s cell phones through the country’s free 3-2-1 information service. ADRA will also distribute information in public places using illustrated posters and pamphlets that can be understood even by people who cannot read.
“ADRA’s awareness campaign focuses on maximizing chances for the most vulnerable to access the COVID vaccine, clarifying myths and misconceptions about the virus and the vaccine, and helping people make informed decisions about COVID-19 vaccination and prevention,” Karuma said.
ADRA has been working throughout the pandemic to protect communities in Mozambique from COVID-19. From June to September 2020, ADRA distributed hygiene kits to 620 households in peri-urban areas of Mozambique’s capital, Maputo.
“During this time of crisis, ADRA is coming together with volunteers from local churches and with our partners in government and education to slow the spread of the virus and help needy families cope with the impact of the pandemic,” David Masinde, country director for ADRA in Mozambique, said. “We seek to be the hands and feet of Jesus as we minister to our communities in these difficult days.”
ADRA, the global humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the world and has assisted millions of families during the pandemic. ADRA’s emergency relief activities include distributing food and other essentials to people in need, providing personal protective equipment and medical supplies to hospitals serving vulnerable communities, and educating the public on combating the virus.