flag - burkina faso

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa. Ranked as one of the world’s poorest nations, it has a fragile health system that turned out to be very vulnerable to coronavirus.

For this reason, the EU stepped up emergency support. Local medical professionals were trained on how to manage the virus and treat patients. In cooperation with the Red Cross, an awareness campaign about hand washing and maintaining distance from others was organised. And masks, hand sanitiser and soap were distributed across the country, with help from local associations.

The EU also looked at ways to address the consequences of the crisis, such as food shortages. By working with NGOs on the ground, the Union supplied food and clean water to vulnerable communities. This was especially helpful for families under quarantine.

This is Abdoulaye Zoungrana

Abdoulaye Zoungrana © Red Cross Burkina Faso, 2020

Abdoulaye Zoungrana © Red Cross Burkina Faso, 2020

He’s a farmer and community health worker from the village of Sara in western Burkina Faso. When the pandemic was declared, it was Abdoulaye’s responsibility to inform locals in his area about the virus.

“When we learned that there were cases of coronavirus in Burkina Faso, people panicked. No one had specific information about the disease and some people tricked the villagers into drinking adulterated alcohol or drinking hot water as a cure.”

Thanks to an EU-funded training session given by the Red Cross, Abdoulaye was able to inform locals on how to stay safe.

“Locals listen to community health workers. So we were able to convince people in mosques, markets, schools, and restaurants that we could reduce the spread of this disease by washing our hands regularly with water and soap.”

In Abdoulaye’s view, EU support has been paramount in helping Burkina Faso fight the pandemic. And he wants to learn more to help his country combat challenges that lie ahead.

“We sincerely thank the Red Cross and the European Union for having strengthened our capacity to be relays in the village. We would like to have more opportunities to train ourselves on the evolving epidemic and how to respond.”

Fellow community worker Abdou Aziz Sawadogo and information posters © Red Cross Burkina Faso, 2020

Fellow community worker Abdou Aziz Sawadogo and information posters © Red Cross Burkina Faso, 2020

flag - sierra leone

Sierra Leone

The West African nation of Sierra Leone has been steadily recovering from the 2014 Ebola crisis and the civil war that lasted over a decade – yet it remains one of the poorest countries in the world.

Therefore, when the pandemic struck, the country’s already fragile health system was at risk of being overwhelmed. That would have left vulnerable local communities without protection.

To complement national efforts, the EU and Ireland teamed up with Irish and local NGOs to provide crisis support.

Meet Ibrahim Fatu Kamara

Ibrahim ©Ibrahim Fatu Kamara, 2020

Ibrahim © Ibrahim Fatu Kamara, 2020

He’s the programme director of Action for Advocacy and Development Sierra Leone (AAD-SL), a local NGO.

With EU support, Ibrahim has been informing urban and rural communities how to prevent the spread of the virus, installing locally made hand washing facilities, and delivering masks, soaps and hand sanitiser. For households in quarantine, food and water packages - including nutritional seed bundles - have been provided.

“The packages supplied to quarantining households have helped stem the spread of the virus. Without this support, those people would have to go out and search for food.”

But to really help local populations, support needs to go beyond immediate relief. This is why the EU also offers training to organisations on the ground, like Ibrahim’s, on how to prepare for future emergencies and respond better.

Handwashing installation in Falaba © KADDRO, 2020

Handwashing installation in Falaba © KADDRO, 2020

Solidarity in times of crisis

Michael © Michael Solis, 2020

Michael © Michael Solis, 2020

Michael Solis works for the Irish NGO Trócaire, which means ‘compassion’ in Irish. From his work in Sierra Leone, he’s convinced that the EU has a strong role to play in supporting partner countries.

“Some of the countries outside of the EU don’t have the health systems and safety nets that EU countries enjoy, making them more vulnerable to external shocks. The EU will have a role to play not only during the pandemic, but afterwards as well.”

Just like Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone, many countries around the world are receiving assistance as part of the Team Europe initiative. It pools resources from EU institutions and European countries to help the global fight against coronavirus and its long-term socio-economic consequences.

In Sierra Leone, the initiative focuses on food security and protecting livelihoods, while in other parts of the world, it also helps address gender violence – which has been on the rise during the pandemic. Team Europe will also play a key role in global efforts to secure vaccines for the most vulnerable populations in developing countries through the COVAX initiative.