Message from the President & CEO – April 22, 2020
Dear Partner –
The World Health Organization (WHO) is warning that in Africa COVID-19 could surge from just thousands now to 10 million in three to six months. Over the past week, cases in Africa have doubled. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, shared, “Last week, there was a 51% increase in the number of reported cases on my own continent, Africa, and a 60% increase in the number of reported deaths.”
Lockdowns across the continent are obliterating the African economy. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, about 71% of Africa’s workforce is “informally employed.” A recent McKinsey report shows that the jobs or incomes of 150 million Africans are vulnerable in the crisis. For the majority of Africans, at this moment, the fear of hunger is greater than the fear of COVID-19.
Our member food banks in Africa are on the front lines of this dramatic, immediate increase in need. In South Africa, where several protests have broken out over access to food handed out by authorities, FoodForward South Africa has distributed a total of 2,394 tons of food to 136,500 households, serving approximately 365,000 people. Andy DuPlessis, Managing Director at FoodForward SA, said, “FoodForward South Africa is immensely grateful to GFN and other donors for the awesome support during this very challenging time in our country, as we work toward ensuring that our health crisis does not turn into a hunger crisis.”
In Nigeria, the Lagos Food Bank Initiative team is navigating excessive force by the military and police to distribute food in informal settlements. On these visits to the settlements, the team invites volunteer healthcare professionals to come along and deliver hygiene kits and demonstrate how to properly wash hands.
One of our emerging project food banks, Food For All Africa in Ghana – a country in which food prices are tripling – is offering is offering 3,500 daily hot meals to Accra’s homeless population. Elijah Amoo Addo, Founder and Executive Director, shared, “The past three weeks have been filled with desperation and anxiety – people wondering what will kill them first, hunger or COVID-19. Many of our food bank clients, our poor and vulnerable, believe that they are left to fight COVID-19 and hunger at the same time.”
Over the past year, GFN has been fortunate to expand its work with promising food banking organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa. Evolving retail and agri-food supply chains, especially those in urban areas, have created promising opportunities for the food banking model to play a role in fighting hunger. Our partners in Accra, Lagos, Nairobi, Gaborone, Addis Ababa and Tanandava (Madagascar), are finding innovative and efficient ways to advance local hunger relief. We all have much we can learn from their work, and their leadership.
We also know that children are disproportionately affected by this global health and economic crisis. There are approximately 368.5 million children missing out on the school meals on which they depend.
To tackle child hunger amid COVID-19, we are pleased to announce that The Global FoodBanking Network has teamed up with the Global Child Nutrition Foundation to support food banks in determining how best to reach children out of school during this time. Through this partnership, we will compile information on what we are both learning from partners across the globe who are responding to the food and nutrition needs of children while they are out of school due to COVID-19. This partnership will also allow us to potentially make connections between in-country partners who are interested in joining their efforts to effectively and efficiently serve children while schools are closed.
Photo courtesy of Food For All Africa
COVID-19 is one of the most difficult challenges our organization and network has ever faced. But with generosity, spirit, grit and resilience, I know we can feed everyone.
President & CEO
The Global FoodBanking Network