“When you share your last crust of bread with a beggar, you mustn't behave as if you were throwing a bone to a dog. You must give humbly, and thank him for allowing you to have a part in his hunger.” - Giovanni Guareschi
In a country of about 32 million people, the few that are privileged to serve others in the national assignment must do so to the best of their ability for God and Country. No action should justify undermining the dignity of a fellow citizen ironically in an attempt to serve. Not even beggars deserve food to be thrown at them.
The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has not only caused huge financial and human resource burden on families and countries, it has also questioned the resilience and preparedness and/or the lack of it in every aspect of our systems.
As Ghana, like many other countries across the globe grapple to fully understand and effectively respond to the virus, many approaches are been adopted, some based on evidence, some just knee-jerk.
A series of initiatives ranging from mobilizing resources to provide food aid by Civil Society Groups, Private Sector Actors and Government, to procurement of crucial Personal Protective Equipment’s (PPEs) initiated by the outspoken Businessman, Honourable Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, Member of Parliament for Assin Central, to rebranding and re-direction political party campaign vehicles to provide essential information on COVID-19 initiated by Honourable Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Member of Parliament for the North Tongu in the Volta region, arguably one of Ghana’s youngest, proactive and innovative Politicians.
Whereas most of these initiates are commendable and have gone well and proven our individual and collective sense of belonging and care, the distribution of food has unfortunately been chaotic, haphazard and could serve as a breeding ground for spreading the virus to the millions of Ghanaians who cue daily for food rations. There got to be a better way.
In two other opinion pieces, one on protecting human rights in this COVID-19 era (https://www.modernghana.com/news/994019/is-the-upper-east-regions-response-to-covid-19.html?fbclid=IwAR1_K4MrTGIC2bMSXz8oAGZtK33oZklz4ctQqymWpF05q0Jqhl8fxxFCfEY) and another on why recommending self-isolation is a dangerous precedent, (https://www.modernghana.com/news/994862/stop-asking-health-workers-and-contacts-to-self.html?fbclid=IwAR2qYM5ip7RFTMSIvxrKa2PNM4YXJYlWqbcT6T8r-a8pMUu21dEp452X3Wc) I outlined some proposals and questions and urged citizens to demand accountability.
Citizens like Alhaji Amidu Ibrahim-Tanko, Executive Director of STAR-Ghana Foundation need commendation for their strong Social Media Campaign which drew attention to the mind-boggling food distribution arrangements in parts of the lockdown areas and Mr. James Nana Tsiquaye and the Management of Sunshine FM in Bawku in the Upper East Region holding discussions to amplify citizen’s voices for accountability on COVID-19 during their morning shows.
A country of 32 million can not lack ideas on how to deliver food in a dignified manner to its citizens that are in need. We must reflect and get it right. The following are some ideas that could help the food distribution more dignifying and orderly.
The food distribution provides a two opportunities; (a) reducing hunger and (b) reducing poverty. The various REGISTERED food vendors in the area and adjoining area should be engaged to provide the service to specific numbers of people at assigned times at different collection centres. This approach will provide them continued taxable incomes (reduce poverty) and reach more people (reduce hunger).
Following keenly, the transformation of the National Food Buffer Stock Company under its young and affable Leader Alhaji Abdul-Hanan Aludiba into an innovative company with multiple of service providers and a strong distribution chain, NAFCO could harness its nation-wide systems in this difficult times to salvage the situation.
The potential of Ghana’s Security forces who are currently enforcing social distancing measures can be further harnessed to help support the process.
The need for a properly working digital address system and national identification must be fully operational so that, we can automate some of these services using technology to reach those who qualify in a timely and cost-efficient manner.
Whereas National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) is legally mandated to provide emergency services, the organization needs to re-strategize and adopt a multi-sector approach by involving other institutions and CSOs with the appropriate expertise to ensure smooth operations.
Religious institutions such as Churches and Masjids and other agencies like Hajj Board could play an advisory role by sharing their expertise in dealing with large crowds and handling food distribution schemes
Let’s endevour to promote access to appropriate food and nutrition but in dignity as enshrined in the letter and spirit of our national constitution. For “We don't need to cure hunger - we know how to solve hunger - it's food, it's nutrition, and it's really a question of access”- Lauren Bush
Awal Ahmed Kariama
Mobile: +233 248498703
Email: [email protected]
Vision: A world in which Human Rights and Sustainable Development informs all actions to empower people to live in DIGNITY. Core Values: Accountability, Equal Opportunities & Diversity, Mutual Respect, Inclusion, Equity & Justice. Mission: To facilitate and initiate processes/programs that empower poor people’s movements to access and utilize the social, human and natural resources they need in a sustainable and timely manner to become self-reliant.