How hunger affects maternal health — and what mothers in Africa's drylands are doing about it
The long-term effects of hunger on maternal health can carry over into the health of newborns, and carry a lifelong impact. But that can be changed.
Read our 2021 annual report
For the first time in its 52-year history, Concern has spent 2020 striving to prevent the same virus from spreading in all of the countries it works in, from Kenya to Haiti. As the most difficult year in living memory drew to a close, Concern’s dedicated teams were continuing their life-saving work preventing COVID-19 in some of the world’s poorest countries.
The most immediate and effective action we’ve taken to prevent COVID-19 is to educate and inform people on what steps they should follow to minimise their exposure to the virus. From hand washing to social distancing, with the help of amazing donors, Concern’s teams have been working hard to improve awareness about COVID-19 in the most fragile places. In fact, Concern has reached 20 million people in the world’s poorest countries with vital COVID-19 messaging.
This figure includes more than 2 million people who have been reached with COVID-19 messaging in Ethiopia. Concern has also worked with health ministers in Niger to strengthen the capacity of their health centres, and partnered with radio stations in Pakistan so they can spread the word about the symptoms to keep more families safe.
Despite the work that has been done, there is still a massive challenge ahead. Even before the global pandemic, there were 135 million people facing acute food shortages and 1 billion people worldwide living in slum communities, where social distancing is near impossible.
Even before COVID-19, life in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya was difficult for Nasra (23), her husband and her two children.
In normal times, Nasra’s husband earns 200 shillings a day and Nasra is full-time carer for her children. But now, with Covid-10, her husband can no longer go out and work. They have no source of income. They are now dependent on support from the community.
Thanks to donors, Concern is providing cash transfers for Nasra’s family and families in similar situations, so they could buy the essentials they need – from food to soap. Because of this support, Nasra will no longer have to live in fear, and her children can stay safe from hunger.
So far, Concern has provided cash transfers to 20,000 in Kenya and to around 300,000 people in all programme countries.
With 1.4 billion people struggling to access clean water or hand-washing facilities, it’s vital that we help vulnerable people around the world maintain good hygiene – so they can stay safe from this dangerous and wide-spreading virus.
Thanks to Concern’s soap-making workshops, communities in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, now have a source of income again, as well as a means to hand-wash effectively. This not only enables them to take control of their lives, but helps them protect themselves from COVID-19.
Programmes like this are incredibly powerful in communities where basic hygiene is a luxury. Because if we help one family stay safe, they can pass on their knowledge.
In fact, one workshop attendee has made soap-making a new business, alongside two of her neighbours. Mother of two Rosette (34) says she misses her life before COVID-19, but that she is thrilled with her new set of skills, thanks to the soap-making workshop.
“It helps me to have a little business to earn money to help my family and my community. I made banners and marketing it to my neighbours,” she says.
Similarly, workshops attendee Descades Santianna (26) said she will share her new skills with her friends and family, so they can help prevent COVID-19 in their area.
“Every skill you have is a new opportunity in life. Not only for me, for other people that I will share it with in my community. When you share what you've learned with others, even you die physically, what you've shared will stay alive,” she said,
“I say many thanks to Concern for this workshop because solid and liquid soap will be very helpful not only for me but for people in my community.”
Never before has the world faced such an unprecedented challenge. But despite enduring one of the toughest years, supporters have stood with Concern and been there for those most at risk of its terrifying impacts.
In a year that we have been bombarded with tragic statistics on a daily basis, Concern is proud to share some positive news. 800,000 people at risk of COVID-19 have been given soap and hand sanitiser. Around 8,131 hand-washing stations have been installed around the world to stop the spread. 56,955 hygiene kits have been provided in 16 countries to keep people safe.
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