No Work, no Pay… no Food!

by ACT

  • Posted on May 29, 2020

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… Living with the new normal in Ipaja, Lagos

Yetunde Joseph of Community Development Link, Ipaja, ACT partner organisations in Nigeria, gives us an insight to the impact of covid-19 on the lives of the families that ACT support and how it affects our work in Ipaja, Lagos.  Since writing this blog, some of the lockdown restrictions in Nigeria have been lifted.

Lagos, formerly the political capital of Nigeria and still the commercial center and business hub is the nation’s largest urban area. Its population is believed to be about 20 million. Ayobo-Ipaja is in the Alimosho local government area in the north-western part of Lagos. Alimosho is the largest local government authority in Lagos State with about 2 million inhabitants. Because of its location at the entrance to Lagos, the area is populated mostly by internal migrants from other parts of the country coming to seek employment opportunities, livelihood and to improve their lives. Ipaja is densely populated and neglected, lacking basic infrastructure and in desperate need of intervention and support. It is in this part of Lagos that ACT operates.

Following the lockdown which began late in March, the CDLI office has had to shut down. Our two full time staff and our volunteers have been working from home. We communicated among ourselves by phone. At the start of the lockdown, we contacted each of the families that ACT support (about a hundred with just over 400 children) to check on their health and welfare. We advised the mothers (widows) and careers (mostly grandmothers or relatives) about how to keep safe and the need to wash their hands regularly. The challenge is that most of them live in homes with no running water and where sanitary facilities and kitchen areas are shared with other families. Some families live in just one room, partitioned with a curtain to provide two separate areas. Typically, the children sleep on mats laid on the floor at night. There is insufficient space for more than one bed.

When the schools were shut down, we also had to stop the Saturday supplementary classes which we provided to help the children with school home work and any that is lagging behind in their class work to improve numeracy and literacy. It also ended the monthly widows and orphans support meeting, during which we catch up with each family and find out about any issues that the mothers and children may be facing. The lockdown restricted all public transportation, which was enforced and tightly policed.  Anyone attempting to break the lockdown was in for police harassment which can be very costly financially. The women who depended on street selling for income were particularly hard hit.

Failed government promises

The government announced they were providing food palliative for people most in need, but none of these ever reached the people in Ipaja. There have been queries about this as people most in need around the country seemed not to have received the food parcels. DCLI joined up with other NGOs to access food parcels which we then distributed to all our supported families, going house to house in April and May.

Government has been running radio and televisual classes for the children to engage them over the lockdown. Many of the families don’t have access to television, but most have access to a radio. We contact them regularly to let them know the radio schedules and times when the classes are on, so that the children can keep up with their studies. School closure occurred just before the children were to sit their second term exams. This is expected to take place as soon as schools reopen.

The lockdown has been hard on the children, forcing them to stay at home in cramped conditions, rather than being out playing with friends. The younger ones are particularly affected. They really miss being at school and can’t wait to get back to normal life when this is over. They want to go to school where they are guaranteed at least a school meal each day and not have to go hungry much of the time, which is a main complaint when we have been to their home to deliver their food parcels. The problem is the same for many people in Ipaja, as they are mostly low income daily paid workers. Children have picked up the slogan going around, “no work, no pay, no food”.

ACT is for the people otherwise forgotten

In these very challenging times, our need for your support has never been more crucial. Covid-19 has affected the livelihood of many poor widows and families, not only in Nigeria, but across the 8 countries of Africa where we work.  ACT supported families are very grateful and pray for the health and well being of all ACT donors, expressing how now more than ever they are thinking about your kindness and generosity in these trying times.

Please consider making a donation to ACT to help us through this difficult time. Any help we receive means a lot to us. To visit our donations page please Click here.

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