By Ralph Madugu: –
As part of efforts to curb the rising wave of COVID-19 in Plateau State, TEARFUND Nigeria, a Christian international relief and development organization, has launched the second phase of its response to the pandemic that has remained a global emergency.
The organisation carried out the first phase of the COVID-19 response as an emergency between April and June 2020 in Bassa, Jos North, Jos South and Jos East LGAs.
In his welcome address in Jos, Country Director, TEARFUND Nigeria, Mr. Paul Mershak, disclosed that the second phase was targeted at 10, 800 people in six communities of Jos North, Jos South and Shendam LGAs with sanitizers, gels and face masks.
Mr. Mershak, who described the year 2020 as “the year when the world stood still,” regretted that the beginning, which was usually “celebrated with so much optimism and excitement inspiring dreams for both the year and the start of a new decade, however, a viral infection literally made the world stand still wreaking havoc on lives, livelihoods and nations” and acknowledged that one lesson that had been learned was that human beings are vulnerable and not in control of the world.
This, according to him, needed the greatest compassion as followers of Christ to minister in the midst of a crisis where the need is greatest at this time in national and global history.
He disclosed that the first phase was an emergency because COVID-19 came as a new disease, hence there was need to raise awareness towards protection.
Mr. Mershak added that, apart from the kits, TEARFUND planned to reach 9 million people in 7 states with public health mass messages through radio live-phone-in programmes.
“In collaboration with Vaimo, a mass messaging telecommunications company, we hope to reach 60, 000 people through public health mass messaging, using push up messages.”
On COVID-19 response in humanitarian and emergency settings, the TEARFUND Country Director explained that the organization also carried out interventions in Miango through one of its implementing partners, The ECWA Aids Ministry, during which 90 households, 3,344 Internally Displaced Persons were reached.
He noted that, in addition to the humanitarian and emergency response, TEARFUND, through the support of the Dutch Relief Agency (DRA), was targeting 780 households made up of 3900 individuals in two local governments and two communities, including two camps in Borno State.
While urging the implementing partners to ensure adequate distribution of the kits, the TEARFUND Country Director cautioned: “People are careless in public places Churches, Mosques, Markets. They drop the sanitizers, Facemasks and if one person is COVID-19 positive, every one of us remains at risk of contracting the virus. We should not take things for granted.”
In his remarks, Plateau State Commissioner for Water Resources and Energy, who was represented by the Director, Planning, Research and Statistics, Mr. Raymond Danladi, described the launch as timely because the fight against the pandemic could not be complete without water being a necessary item in the process of handwashing.
“Handwashing is very simple but very effective in curbing the pandemic. As a ministry we have come up with plans to fight the pandemic. Government cannot work alone in this fight hence the need for partnership because resources are lean. The partnership between our ministry and other organisations is a welcome idea,” he stated.
He called on stakeholders in the sector to partner with government in order to win the battle against the pandemic.
Speaking on behalf of the TEARFUND implementing partners, Executive Director of Christian Rural and Urban Development Association (CRUDAN), Mrs. Ruth Dul, represented by Engr. Daniel Makpu, praised TEARFUND for supporting the various partners to achieve the goals of TEARFUND projects.
There were goodwill messages from other implementing partners in Nigeria, including The ECWA Aids Ministry (TEAM), COCIN Community Development Programme (CCDP), Faith Alive Foundation (FAF), Rural Development Counsellors for Christian Churches in Africa (RURCON) and Scripture Union West Africa (SUWA), among others.
The event featured a short play on the various ways to guard against contracting the virus.
Highpoint of the launch was the symbolic presentation of the kits to the implementing partners for onward distribution to the target communities.