Our focus is on education for Zambia’s most vulnerable children as we know that every year of education increases earning potential by 10%. But when a disaster strikes that impacts the communities we work with, whether a failed harvest from drought or flooding, or a global pandemic like coronavirus, we will support our partners to respond.
ZOA is responding to the developing COVID-19 situation in Zambia through our community partners to support the most vulnerable children.
COVID-19 continues to turn the lives of children and families upside down. School closures and movement restrictions disrupts children’s routines and separates them from the networks they rely on and the safety of schools, leaving many of the most vulnerable children even more exposed to exploitation and abuse.
- Violence against children and sexual exploitation have risen due to safe spaces and support networks having been disrupted.
- Children have been out of school and working to make ends meet.
- There has been a spike in the numbers of pregnancies and early marriage during the pandemic.
- Poor mental health already experienced by vulnerable children has been exacerbated.
Health education and basic sanitation is poor in Zambia with high levels of open defecation in rural areas. Many households have very limited access to soap and hand sanitiser making good hygiene practices more challenging.
Hunger has increased for children who missed out on their daily school meals when schools were shut, exacerbating the effects of the 2019 drought and poor harvest. Because of food shortages the price of staple foods such as maize, rice and wheat have increased leaving many people unable to afford the basics.
ZOA’s COVID-19 RESPONSE
- We’re reducing the spread of COVID-19 through child-friendly hand-washing stations at schools and in communities and providing face masks.
- We’re improving sanitation by delivering key health messages to stop the spread of COVID-19 and providing soap to families.
- We’re reducing COVID-related stress and anxiety by providing psychosocial counselling to affected children.
- We’re working with our partners to deal with the longterm social affects of COVID-19 due to prolonged school closures, such as pregnancy and early marriage.
COVID-19 emergency packages
£2 can provide a child and their family with 2 bars of soap.
£20 can provide an emergency food parcel for a child to share with their family for a month.
£80 can provide a hand washing station for thousands of people.
£66 can pay for a frontline worker to provide key ‘STOP THE SPREAD’ messages to hundreds of people.
Supporting mental health during the pandemic
Clara, 22 years old
“The behaviour of us students has been so bad during the pandemic. Most of my fellow students have been engaging in illicit activities such as sex, drinking and smoking. This is because we weren’t kept busy with school activities and this has affected us negatively. There is an increase in drug abuse, violence and child labour.
I’ve been having counselling with our project officer about peer pressure, avoiding illicit activities and how to follow COVID-19 prevention measures. I feel more protected when having these counselling sessions.”
Providing emergency food parcels as part of our COVID-19 response
Diana, 13 years old
“I’m not happy because school closed early this term due to COVID-19. At school we used to eat every day, now I’ll not be able to eat three meals a day as my mother isn’t working.
The prices of food and other commodities have gone up so my mother isn’t able to buy food. Even soap is a problem.
I’m HIV positive and am on drugs so I need more food to eat so the drugs don’t have side effects. I’m happy I received food and soap during this pandemic. Thank you very much for the support I really appreciate it.”
Making sure no child is distracted by hunger
Loveness, 84 years and her granddaughter, Sheila, 13 years
“When the rains failed I had difficulty feeding my family. We didn’t harvest anything at all. The maize dried up before maturity.
We ate once a day but at times we didn’t eat. I sell herbs and munkoyo [mildly fermented drink made from maize and roots] but that doesn’t even earn me a $1 a day.
I struggle to buy enough food for the children. This affects their learning at school. I feel good when they go to school because they normally have a meal at school.
I depended on well wishers like CEHOZ [ZOA’s partner] for food.”
Your help can support children through primary and
secondary school, provide nutritious school meals so pupils
aren’t learning on an empty stomach and support those that can
through tertiary vocational training. We provide a holistic
approach so also provide mental health support and other inputs