There has been much debate about personal freedom being impinged through lockdowns and enforced self isolation, yet there are millions in developing nations who don't have the privilege of social distancing.
Privilege may sound an odd word to use during an undoubtedly difficult time like this, when millions of us have been asked to stay at home and many have been unable to see their families. But we are, at least, able to shield those we love through this very act.
And whilst this has been tough for many with concerns about those we care for, being unable to see loved ones in hospital, constant job and financial security worries and the never-ending stream of media coverage, for most of us lockdown has not been a daily chore. We have access to water in our homes, grocery stores around the corner and even piping hot food delivered to our door. Wifi connections kept us informed, Netflix kept us entertained and most of us had access to a garden, park, or some other open space.
Wifi connections kept us informed, Netflix kept us entertained...
Yet to be able to protect others by shutting yourself away, as difficult as that may be, is something that many in the developing world cannot do.
To millions living in close proximity across the globe in cities, towns or migrant camps, social isolation is not an option. To these people, sharing communal water sources, living two or three families to a room or tent and with little by way of sanitation, social distancing is a meaningless concept.
As the coronavirus travelled around the world on planes from major cities and holiday destinations, it eventually reached those who couldn't leave where they were. Those living in poverty… those less able to protect themselves.
Over the past few months, national and international bodies across the world have mobilised to do all they can to limit the impact of the Coronavirus in developing nations. Should Covid-19 hit these places hard it could be devastating. Organisations like the UN and major International NGOs are on the ground in South Asia and Africa; South East Asia and South America putting in place processes to limit the impact.
But if major economies like the US and the UK struggled to protect themselves from the very worst impact of the virus, how can less developed nations be expected to mitigate its effects? Industrialised nations are already reviewing their policies to make sure they can limit the impact of any future outbreak, but how can you create protections for communities that already struggle with basic sanitation? Processes are being put in place, but in most cases it may be too late to make changes to fully protect these vulnerable communities now. But we can look to the future.
To safeguard communities against future threats we need to help them strengthen their own support mechanisms
To safeguard communities against future threats we need to help them strengthen their own support mechanisms. A major part of this will be the small, rural NGOs who were already in place fighting poverty, inequality and for social transformation. It will be these organisations that will be at the forefront of creating the change that will protect future generations as best they can.
These organisations need training, funding and access to vital resources if they are to protect themselves from potential threats like the coronavirus. They know their communities better than anyone else and are aware of the specific issues they face. By supporting these grassroots charities, we can help protect millions.
CDV Global can work with companies & individual volunteers now to remotely create a plan to be implemented as soon as restrictions allow so vital training can be delivered allowing these NGOs to support the most vulnerable. If you are an experienced professional or are recently retired and would like to share your expertise with NGOs in developing countries, please get in touch.