LRF and COVID-19 Response
The emergence of COVID-19 continues to ravage, traumatize and disrupt economies globally. The socio-economic fallout and disruption as a result of COVID-19 has been pandemic proportions, devastating both the formal and informal sectors, with the informal economy being particularly vulnerable by virtue of the majority having weak social safety nets during pandemics. COVID-19 has not spared any sector. The space in which LRF operates was not spared either. The Government COVID-19 protocols also continue to impact in programmatic work. As a human rights organisation with a special focus on access to justice, LRF notes that the sector suffered a significant hit owing to COVID-19, impacting access to justice, especially by the indigent.
Impact of COVID-19 vis-à-vis LRF’s work
The social, economic, political and cultural crisis caused by the pandemic continues to increase inequality, exclusion, discrimination, violence and unemployment, especially among the indigent, minorities and marginalised communities. There has also been a rise in domestic violence owing to the economic and social crisis arising from loss of livelihoods and employment. Rise in teenage pregnancies during the COVID-19 period owing to closure of schools continues to be a challenge, especially with regards to responding to their vulnerabilities and protection, especially in resource-poor communities. Survivors of violence also face serious challenges owing to the slow response by the justice because of the government response protocols. Frontline workers such as paralegals, human rights defenders (HRDs), Community Health Workers (CHWs) and community mobilisers also face serious challenges when responding to cases that need immediate response, as they are likely to expose themselves to COVID-19 infection. The agencies of justice also grapple with how best to incorporate the COVID-19 protocols without compromising justice. This is the environment in which LRF operates.
LRF’s COVID-19 Safeguarding response:
LRF continues to promote awareness on COVID-19 pandemic and the response protocol to enhance protection of its staff, partners and the communities it works with across the country. While doing this, LRF provides COVID-19 safeguarding through distribution of PPEs to its staff, community paralegals and other frontline workers to reduce their susceptibility to infection. LRF also provides COVID-19 safeguarding by applying the containment protocols at conferences, meetings, trainings and other actions that are project focused. LRF also utilises virtual meetings, as well as partners with the Judiciary in piloting the e-court system as COVID-19 response to access to justice.
LRF activities and programmes are donor dependent. It utilises part of its programmatic budgets to promote COVID-19 safeguarding by procuring the necessary items that are key to COVID-19 mitigation. It continues to undertake strategic fundraising which also takes into effect the needs for COVID-19 safeguarding.
Evidently, COVID-19 has become the new normal. Be that as it may, the progress in the search for a vaccine couldn’t have come at a better time, which has seen some promising successes with regards to development of vaccines with higher levels of potencies, ranging between 90 to 95 percent. Significantly, in the West, Pfizer Laboratories is leading the charge, with approvals for their vaccine having been done in some jurisdictions. In December 2020, western countries have reported to have started vaccinations of their nationals to mitigate the scourge.
However, the economic devastation in Africa seems to slow the progress of most of its economies in acquiring and vaccinating people. Philanthropy, coupled with bilateralism should ensure that weak economies are supported to ensure access to the vaccine. This is because countries need to leverage pandemic crises to build more inclusive and sustainable societies and move forward in a better direction. They must invest in better future not the past