Energia per i Diritti Umani Onlus started the “Stop Coronavirus” campaign in Senegal and Gambia in order to raise awareness among the population on the real risks of the global pandemic and give free equipment to prevent the transmission of pathogens.

«Today we have done a great work, with 27 volunteers divided into different groups. We have knocked on the doors of 560 houses, each with more than one family, delivering bleach, soap and hand gel. Here in Senegal, especially in Pikine, most people do not know the risks of coronavirus. Many did not even believe that this disease exists», says Oumar Khassimou Dia, vice president of the partner association Énergie pour les Droits de l’Homme Sénégal, on March 29th. His words, coming from the outskirts of Dakar, testify the African lack of preparation for the arrival of the virus (already in mid-month WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus thundered: «My continent must wake up»). At the same time, institutions and organizations in the area are rushing in order to set up pervasive prevention and information systems.

Let’s move one step back. On February 29th, Energia per i Diritti Umani launched the “Stop Malaria” campaign in West Africa (2003-2010; 2017-2020) with the support of volunteers from the Italian National Civil Service. After that, events have speeded up: first cases of coronavirus infection detected; suspension of school activities and public events; closed airports, state of emergency and curfew. Senegal has 142 ascertained patients, whereas Gambia has 3 (29.03.2020). A general underestimation of the numbers in Africa is probable: the continent still has few departments to process the tests, on average there is one in each capital city. Moreover, the spread of the virus can degenerate in a very short time because of the health and social conditions of the country. Intensive care units (there are a few hundred places for more than 1 billion inhabitants), specialized staff and proper awareness are lacking. «In order to support the local medical system, we have decided that we will donate gloves and masks to the health facilities in Dakar and its surroundings. There is a serious shortage of these material and prices have risen a lot», explains Oumar.

The solid network of collaborators built in the last 20 years has allowed to quickly start the “Stop Coronavirus” campaign in the urban centres of Dakar, Pikine and Keur Massar in Senegal and in the rural areas of Ndiadiane, Sossop, Tataguine, Bandoulou (still in Senegal) and of Ballanghar, Ganjie, Kauur in Gambia. The first intervention consisted of an awareness-raising plan. Volunteers have been spreading messages on WhatsApp, sticking flyers on the walls, visiting homes in order to explain the hygiene rules to be respected and the importance of leaving the house only for emergencies, keeping the recommended distance between people. With the help of London organisation People for Change, several tanks with a tap, containing water and bleach, were installed in the streets of the Gambian villages to allow frequent washing of hands. 380 bars of soap, 3000 bottles of bleach, 500 pairs of gloves, 500 masks and 200 packs of hand gel arrived in Pikine, Senegal, on March 27th. So, we are back at the beginning of this story, with the distribution of hygiene kits among the population and the continuous effort to spread good practices, material and useful information. The second stage has started on March 29th with the launch of the Facebook fundraising campaign “StopCoronavirus: la Pandemia dove l’Acqua manca”. It is now time to make the action even more effective, double aid and quickly move prevention activities forward. The virus does not wait.

You can find daily updates of the “Stop Coronavirus” Campaign on the social media of Energia per i Diritti Umani ONLUS.

If you want to support the project with a donation, the IBAN is IT35S0501803200000011082344 (Energia per i Diritti Umani ONLUS – Banca Etica, branch of Rome). Reason for payment: Donazione per Stop Coronavirus.