As the deadly Coronavirus pandemic is rearing its ugly head the world over, many countries have been compelled to enforce drastic measures. Rwanda was the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to impose a total lockdown. But in imposing these measures, the country has not forgotten about its vulnerable members of the population.
The country’s president Paul Kagame ordered free door-to-door food distribution for the most vulnerable since the country is in the middle of a lockdown. He is also planning to provide essential services such as the supply of water and electricity for free so that people do not face challenges in acquiring these. He made the food distribution announcement in a television address.
Rwanda imposed a total lockdown on 21 March 2020 and is being enforced for two weeks. By the time the country imposed the lockdown, it had reported a total of 17 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus. The country has now reported 54 cases. This compels with Africa which has 4111 confirmed cases and 117 deaths.
Making the announcement, Kagame said, “We know that this is not an easy period for most Rwandans, whose livelihoods have been interrupted across the country. But we ask you to be patient. Relevant institutions are working on a social protection plan, to support the most vulnerable in our community. We need to speed this up. We are also working in collaboration with our partners in the region and internationally, to manage this pandemic.”
Families whose lives have been negatively affected by the lockdown are assisted with food delivery right at their doorsteps. Kagame acknowledged that many Rwandans are facing social and economic challenges due to the lockdown.
With cases rising, Kagame urged the citizens to remain calm and composed. He said, “As Rwandans, we have overcome many extraordinary challenges together. Our resilience and solidarity are needed now more than ever, to prevail in this struggle against coronavirus. And we have to win this fight,”
In a country where many survive on hand to mouth, the move by the central authority to intervene has been lauded as compassionate. As the shutdown was imposed, business owners were also warned not to raise prices of basic commodities.
In a statement published on the Rwanda Broadcasting Authority site, Kagame assured the nation that the country provides the basic amenities to its citizens.
Part of the statement reads: “We know that this is not an easy period for most Rwandans, whose livelihoods have been interrupted across the country. But we ask you to be patient.
Although we are making good progress, we cannot afford to relax yet. The Government will continue to do everything possible, to support Rwandans through this challenging time. Measures have been taken, and more will be taken, to build the resilience of our private sector throughout this difficult period. Relevant institutions are working on a social protection plan, to support the most vulnerable in our community. We need to speed this up. We are also working in collaboration with our partners in the region and internationally, to manage this pandemic.”
As it stands, global COVID-19 cases have risen to more than 600,000. More than 131,000 people have recovered and more than 27,000 have died.