Like many other international development organisations, our charity, Shared Interest Foundation, has faced challenges over recent months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Fortunately, we have been able to continue working with in-country partners to deliver our support and training to farmers, producers, and businesses in Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Nicaragua. We also relaunched our Livelihood Security Fund, to help producers struggling with the direct impact of Covid-19, alongside ongoing issues like extreme weather conditions, due to climate change.
Here, Shared Interest Foundation Programme Manager, Kodzo Korkortsi, based in Ghana, shares with us his thoughts on announcing the first beneficiary of the Fund.
Image Caption: The entrance area to Bukonzo Co-operative before the floods took place.
Kodzo said: “The pandemic has brought huge difficulties for farmers across the world. However, for disadvantaged communities in rural parts of Africa and Latin America, the impact can hit even harder as there is no support infrastructure in place.
We heard from our first beneficiary, Bukonzo Organic Farmers Co-operative Union (BOCU), in March as news arrived that they were helping their local community, in the Kasese region of Uganda, to cope with the impact of coronavirus.
As a large coffee co-operative, Bukonzo supports the livelihoods of over 1,200 farmers, and they decided to distribute food supplies to supplement those delivered by the Ugandan government. Not long after we received this news, Bukonzo contacted us once again but this time, they needed urgent aid after severe flooding hit their village and the surrounding area. Heavy rainfall caused five rivers to burst their banks. Over 35,000 people were displaced including Bukonzo members and their families.
“The Fund is in place to help sustain businesses and support income levels, but in the first instance we must respond to basic needs. In the case of Bukonzo, this meant providing food and shelter for farmers, and additional support for pregnant women and children. Some have lost everything in the floods and are sleeping in schools and churches.
Before Bukonzo members can begin to rebuild their farms, general wellbeing is of upmost importance as they not only fight the current threat of Covid-19, but also the water-related diseases that follow this type of flooding.
“We are pleased to have received news of Bukonzo successfully distributing the food supplies and shelter materials provided by the Fund. We will remain in close contact with them over coming weeks.
Once Bukonzo overcomes the immediate difficulties faced, they will need to deal with ongoing issues caused by the pandemic. We know from our work with farmers and artisans that many are continuing to feel the effects of disrupted services due to lockdown restrictions.
The co-operative provides income for over a thousand farmers, and its survival is vital to the future of the community. Thank you to everyone who has donated to the Livelihood Security Fund so far, and helped Bukonzo on their journey to recovery. We know from speaking to the General Manager of the co-operative that they will want to return to its role of improving the lives of farmers.
“As Josinta Kabugho says: ‘We want to be part of the people supporting those in need.”
If you would like to read more about the Livelihood Security Fund, and find out how you can help, please click here