In a bid to boost national response towards mitigating the impact of Covid-19 and national disasters in the country, Rwanda Red Cross has since the beginning of 2020 embarked on different interventions including distribution of food and non-food items to vulnerable families.
Such interventions have also included cash-based interventions as well as community mobilisation so as to help the community cope with the effects of Covid-19 and prevent its spread.
So far, 15,645 families affected by Covid-19 and natural disasters across the country are celebrating World Humanitarian Day 2020 after benefitting from Red Cross Support.
Of these beneficiaries, 13,000 got food support, hand-washing facilities and face masks.
World Humanitarian Day (WHD) is held every year on 19 August to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world.
The families received relief through the Cash Transfer Program, food reliefs and other in-kind interventions, Red Cross said.
Distribution of relief aid to the families was possible thanks to Rwanda Red Cross with support from International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC); and National Societies, (Japanese Red Cross, Belgium Red Cross, Belgium Red Cross, Spanish Red Cross and Austrian Red Cross).
On top of food relief, the families were also supported with lifesaving information to help them cope with the pandemic.
The support focused on the districts of Rusizi, Rubavu, Karongi, Nyabihu, Ngororero, Nyarugenge, Bugesera, Nyamagabe, Kirehe, Gasabo, Rutsiro, Kamonyi, Muhanga, Nyagatare, Huye and Rwamagana districts.
Families in cross border districts who have been affected by the freeze on trade activities are also among those that were supported.
For instance, fishing activities, cross border trade and the entire supply chain have been impacted by the lockdown to control the spread of coronavirus in Rusizi District.
Rusizi has been on lockdown since the beginning of June, following the growing number of Covid-19 cases in the area, mainly brought in from across the border.
On top of missed income opportunities caused by the freeze of productive activities, many traders suffered economic losses from goods that have remained unsold and, in many cases, gone to waste because of their perishability in nature.
Since Covid-19 was first reported in Rwanda early this year, Rwanda Red Cross has worked in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health by supporting community awareness on Covid-19.
The mobilisation is done though radio programmes, Public Announcement systems, house-to-house mobilisation, social media and banners among others.
Rwanda Red Cross has also participated in promotion of hygiene and sanitation good practices in communities, reinforcing practices such as social distancing in markets and other public places as well as setting up hand washing facilities.
To carry out the sensitization drive, staff and volunteers of Rwanda Red Cross have been deployed in communities across all the 30 districts, according to officials.
The sensitization message disseminated by Rwanda Red Cross during the mobilization campaign include Covid-19 causes, symptoms and prevention measures, as well as encouraging people to immediately report in case they are presented with some of the virus' symptoms.
Cash support to disaster victims
Meanwhile, besides Covid-19, heavy rains and other natural disasters have also affected communities in many ways.
It is in this respect that the Rwanda Red Cross implemented a robust and effective approach of responding to both natural disasters and the coronavirus pandemic.
The initiative is dubbed the "Cash-Based Intervention."
Of all the beneficiaries, at least 2,645 households were selected and benefitted from a kitty worth Rwf210 million, through Cash Transfer Programming through Mobile Money.
The beneficiaries were selected in the districts of Gisagara, Ngororero, Rusizi, Nyagatare, Ngoma, Ruhango and Rukindo districts.
Rwanda Red Cross prioritized families with elderly persons, female-headed households, chronically ill people and large families amongst others and as well those who didn't get any support from other stakeholders that are within operation.