By Katy Dore, Executive Director, ZOA-UK
ZOA-UK has been working with communities in Zambia for 14 years through our trusted, grassroots, community partners. When COVID-19 hit they reached out to us for emergency support. We were able to respond quickly to their evolving needs and will continue providing support for the most vulnerable children in Zambia for as long as required, or our funding permits.
The Sustainable Development Report 2020, by The United Nations, forecasts that the coronavirus pandemic will push 71 million people back into extreme poverty in 2020 – the first rise in global poverty since 1998. Small international development charities, like ZOA, are vital in reversing this trend. We’re hands-on, responsive to the needs of the communities we work with and specialists in our field. But the disease is affecting children and families far beyond those it directly infects. Protection risks for children are mounting with those who are already vulnerable most at risk. We’re in danger of losing years worth of development work and progress in key areas such as education, particularly girls’ education. Child labour, abuse, early marriage and early pregnancy are all on the rise – one of our partner schools told us that six of their female students fell pregnant during lockdown.
The pandemic has also aggravated pre-existing financial pressures – putting additional burden on health and other public services, whilst social distancing has depressed economic activity. Even before coronavirus Zambia was struggling with mounting debt. Things have got so bad that in November Zambia became Africa’s first country in the coronavirus-era to default on its debt. Zambia’s debt has been spiralling in recent years with the plummeting price of copper being a key factor – the country is Africa’s second largest copper producer. The Zambian currency (Kwacha) continues to fall in value – losing 50% of its value since early 2020 – making it more expensive to pay the country’s debts.
This all means that there is less money to put into the areas that are crucial for development, like education, agriculture and health. Less money in these areas has a long-term social impact on the Zambian people, and as always the most vulnerable bear the brunt.
ZOA is already seeing a greater demand for support to provide the basics for the communities we work in. Pre coronavirus 58% of Zambia’s population were living below the poverty line surviving on less than $1.90 a day – sadly, coronavirus means that many more people will struggle to meet their basic needs. Whilst donations levels are falling for small charities like ZOA, the demand for our services is increasing.
This is why The Big Give Christmas Challenge is more important to us than ever before. Every pound we raise from your generous donations are matched. This means your gift has double the impact.
£20 could provide an emergency food package to one hungry household over Christmas but this week your gift could provide TWO hungry households with an emergency food package.
Thank you for continuing to support us during these unprecedented times, when the need is greater than ever.
You can donate here.