Post COVID-19 Situation Response
2020 – 2022 ACTION PLAN
UNITED CULTURAL EMPOWERMENT u0026amp; SOCIAL COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION
Table of Contents
- Proposed Action Plan 2020/2022
- Target Groups
- Monitoring and Evaluation
- Resource Mobilization u0026amp; Financing
- Implementation Period
Defeat Poverty: Restore dignity
United Cultural Empowerment u0026amp; Social Community Organization (UCESCO) is a charity organization, committed to increasingly and sustainably address poverty amongst vulnerable households located in informal settlements and rural villages. We empower local Women to serve the poor and vulnerable, creating sustainable transformation in their communities. Currently, we are serving 18 marginalized communities in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.
UCESCO believes that when women have control over their assets and income, they reinvest in their families and communities. They are therefore able to provide basic necessities like more nutritious food, education for their children, and access to better health care. That’s why we invest in women and female business owners, equipping them with the tools and expertise they need to make their talents/Skills/businesses thrive and grow.
What We Do
- Informal Settlements u0026amp; Rural Women Economic Empowerment
- Equipping them with Entrepreneurship skills
- Early Childhood Development
- Quality Education for children in informal settlements
- Sustainable Environmental Activities
- Sports and Social Engagements
Actively and sustainably develop vulnerable women and children through education and by diversifying their income streams, to increase their economic viability; through the creation of an environment that promotes social change in enhancing their livelihoods.
To see a world where disadvantaged women living in informal settlements and marginalized areas in Africa are valued in society and empowered to create sustainable and impactful change.
We are in a season where an unforeseen virus (Covid-19) is directly or indirectly affecting the entire human race regardless of age, geographical location, economic and health status. As we are all aware, the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease that recently emerged in Wuhan, China and has rapidly spread globally due to its highly contagious nature.
Since the first cases were cited in Wuhan sometime in December 2019, the number of people infected has been increasing at an alarming rate. As of the time of writing, the numbers were approaching 16,659,409 infections globally with 656,853 fatalities in 190 countries.
As this pandemic continues to rise, it is likely to affect the following in the communities we are serving;
- Large numbers of children are likely to be orphaned and become vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, physical and psychological health risk. At the same time, children, especially those from vulnerable women-led households in urban slums (informal settlement) are likely to experience exacerbated rates of child labor, sexual exploitation, unwanted pregnancies, early marriages and incidences of violence.
- Low income families have and continue to lose livelihood’s as a result of job cuts, business closures and unavailability of casual jobs.
- Disruptions in domestic food supply chains, other shocks affecting food production and loss of incomes and remittances are creating strong tensions and food security risks in these communities. The United Nations World Food programme has warned that an estimated 265 million people could face acute food insecurity by the end of 2020. Up from 135 million people before the crisis, because of income and remittance losses. If farmers are experiencing acute hunger, they may also prioritize buying food today over planting seeds for tomorrow, raising the threat of food shortage in coming years. Some of the communities we are serving are “hotspots” because of multiple crisis resulting from locusts’ plague infestation, Covid-19 crisis and poverty.
- WHO continues to warn that “Africa should prepare for the worst”! Unfortunately, what may be even more devastating than the disease itself is the socio-economic impact on many of the poor vulnerable communities we serve. With most countries closing business, halting projects, and initiating lockdowns, the people most affected by this will be low wage earners working in the informal economy, living on daily income that will now be unstable.
Authorities have established that without stringent intervention, the imminent impact would be much worse and completely overwhelming, especially in countries and communities with fragile healthcare systems, low healthcare infrastructure, scarcity of protective supplies, very few or no isolation facilities, and a low level of community awareness.
With this reality, the Covid- 19 situation has become our primary concern and focus. UCESCO staff and volunteers, as well as all community leaders, have been informed and are coming together as one to respond to this disaster. Mitigation and reconstruction once the pandemic is over, are therefore paramount. We also encourage organizations with similar mindset to act now to stop this health crisis from transforming into a food crisis. The fallout from Covid-19 may push rural families in the 18 disadvantaged communities we are currently serving even deeper into poverty, hunger and desperation, which is a real threat to global prosperity and stability. With immediate action, we can provide rural people with tools to adapt and ensure a quicker recovery; averting an even bigger humanitarian crisis.
UCESCO serves among the urban and rural poor. The urban poor live mostly in slums, which are crowded and compromise preventive measures. On health and containment of the disease; health facilities in these communities are inadequate, there are no isolation facilities, intensive care units, or access to respiratory equipment. To complicate the situation further, social distancing of identified cases in these areas is impossible as people live in overcrowded and unhygienic conditions and many (especially in the rural communities) are uninformed of the risks of contracting the virus.
UCESCO has an opportunity to act now and of healing post the Covid -19 Crisis; empowering the communities for this and walking with them to mitigate and rebuild around this disaster.
Proposed Action Plan 2020/2022 (During and Post Covid -19 Crisis)
Covid -19 has no vaccine or medical cure yet, and it is three times as infectious as the flu. Therefore, vigorous preventive measures are assumed to be the best option at this time. Based on the short window we have, as well as the nature of the disease and the potential of its quick spread, UCESCO has identified the following areas of action.
- Immediate Action
- Post Covid-19 Action
UCESCO is quickly moving to set up a corona prevention and post Covid-19 Taskforce team in the 18 disadvantaged communities we are serving. The immediate proposed action through these taskforce teams primarily focuses on training, awareness creation, promotion of good personal hygiene practices and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) and hygiene materials. Since it is hard to predict for how long the virus will spread, the initial period of the “immediate action” is proposed to be for the first 4 months after the formation of the taskforce.
UCESCO will be providing virtual training and hence will be sharing video links to enable our local partners respond to the pandemic. In areas where internet is unavailable, training for participants in small groups of less than 10 people with proper social distancing will be provided on site.
The advantage we have is that our community organizing is already in place with trained trainers, economic working Women groups, community Vocational training centers, and established clusters and home-to-home visits. We will train our already organized local leaders who will then share effective messages to already identified groups and house to house awareness. By doing this, we can reduce/ avoid myths and distorted speculations that quickly spread and cause fear, panic and hopelessness. The training will mainly focus on the following key areas:
- Covid-19 transmission, signs and symptoms, and contextualized prevention methods.
- Community mobilization and sensitization methods.
- Organizing and leading local responses to mitigate and reconstruct.
The participants and proposed numbers are stated below:
- 27 staff members that have been structured into task forces.
- 360 volunteers (20 volunteers X 18 Communities).
- 90 community leaders (5 leaders X 18 communities).
The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is to be well informed about the Covid-19 virus and how it spreads. UCESCO will be communicating basic simplified and culture-oriented messages to communities using various communication materials. Each community office will be able to translate messages into appropriate languages and give materials to project sites.
The materials will primarily focus on basic information about the disease, transmission modes, major signs and symptoms to watch for preventive measures, and things to do when showing signs and symptoms. The following communication materials will be given to community sites.
- 360 tri fold and standard posters (20 posters X 18 communities) posted in strategic places.
- 3600 brochures (2,000 X 18 Communities) to be distributed during home visits.
- 180 custom Vinyl banners (10 banners X 18 communities).
- 360 T-shirts for task forces and house-to-house volunteers for identification and to spread key messages.
- Bulk SMS, Emails and WhatsApp as a mechanism for communication between our beneficiaries and UCESCO staff; as well as a platform for beneficiaries’ online feedback.
- Develop partnerships to train and equip communities we serve in informal settlements and rural areas with technology to deliver digital content and sell their products online.
- Provide alternative power sources such as solar where main grid power is not accessible.
- Conduct media awareness campaign for children of our beneficiaries, parents and school communities on health messages, safety, social risks and reduction measures.
- Empowering women by improving their knowledge of nutrition as well as promoting maternal nutrition and nutrition of adolescent girls’ dietary intake, and hygiene behaviors, to reduce under nutrition for entire generations.
Promotion of hand washing practices and Environment Hygiene
Proper handwashing is one of the very effective ways of halting the spread of the disease; and maybe the only hand cleaning method accessible to our communities. However, in most communities where we work, hand washing practices may be limited to once or twice per day, and often forgotten even at critical times.
In order to promote this safe practice and sensitize the communities of its greater impact, UCESCO will be investing time and resources to create accessible hand washing public spots.
Distribution of personal protective Equipment (PPE) and hygiene materials
Second to hand washing, UCESCO will also provide PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), such as face masks, hand sanitizers and liquid soaps to minimize the spread. In identified locations, these will be distributed in packaged Kits.
- 21,600 hand sanitizers – 300ml each (200 households x 18 communities) X 6 weeks.
- 36,000 disposable face masks to be used by home visiting volunteers and also for the sick.
- 43,200 bar soaps (200 households X 18 Communities) X 6 weeks X 2 Soaps
- Disinfect and fumigate schools around us to keep our beneficiaries’ children safe from Covid-19, within the communities we are serving. In rural and urban slums.
Short-term Financial Relief to affected families
Due to the high spreading potential of the disease, most household income of most for these vulnerable families is affected in communities where we serve; as they are dependent on their daily income. When companies are closed, or when their street-side business are no more, UCESCO will identify the most affected families through community volunteers and make temporary financial relief available.
Food Banks for most affected vulnerable women-led households
Since the disease will significantly have affected many families, either through loss of jobs or income, UCESCO will be partnering with our local women groups to provide weekly food rations for needy community Based Schools around us of about 3600 students from our beneficiaries. In some special cases for the homeless, UCESCO volunteers will cook and package meals.
Post Covid-19 Crisis (Restorative Intervention)
UCESCO has Identified the following restorative actions and we believe these will be in place in the next two years.
- This is a critical time in which families and communities in general need encouragement and hope. UCESCO is well positioned to undertake this role. By doing scheduled home visits, the support team will be able to give counseling. The volunteers will use masks and social distancing for protection. They will also wear branded T-shirts for identification.
- Increase financial access for 9,000 families through partnerships with Micro-finance institutions in each of the UCESCO respective women groups in farming and Handcrafting. We have set up systems that can facilitate the support to trained beneficiaries. This service will be in high demand and we intend to begin the training sooner than later.
- Procure 2300-liter tanks or other alternative locally available materials with faucets for roof water harvesting/ Borehole to our surrounding 360 community-based schools, in the 18 communities we are serving in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, where children of our beneficiaries are learning. These will help maintain hygiene standards including clean toilets, improve school gardens and the neighboring farming communities we are serving.
- Refurbish and expand classrooms of 180 schools within the communities we are serving, to create enough social distance for children in school. Most of the children studying in these schools come from households we are serving. We also plan to give scholarships to some vulnerable young girls in these communities
- Community-based school feeding programs to improve the health conditions of children of our beneficiaries in the 18 vulnerable communities we are serving, to prevent and treat common childhood malnutrition conditions and thus, increase participation in School. Proposed intervention:
- Sensitize School cooks on hygiene, sanitation and safe food preparation in these schools around us, where children of our beneficiaries are learning.
- Introducing fortified porridge according to increased needs due to Covid-19.
- Support child friendly environment, including access to water for drinking and washing and sanitation and hygiene facilities.
- Conduct “Back to School” campaign for post Covid-19 recovering period within the 18 communities we are serving and support most vulnerable children of our beneficiaries who may have suffered due to Covid-19. We will also support most vulnerable girls within these communities with sanitary towels and other back to school kits.
- UCESCO will liaise with the department of social protection to provide additional assistance to our beneficiaries of cash transfer for orphans and most vulnerable children of our beneficiaries and mobilize community support for girls’ education including those who may have dropped out of school.
- UCESCO plans to set up 18 Greenhouses or other alternative locally farming methods in most affected communities we are serving (30ft x 72ft or 2160 square feet Movable High Tunnel). This will provide both immediate and long-term food relief, and recovery for these vulnerable communities to feed their children and those who rely on our school meals as their only source of nutrition, during these most challenging times we have collectively faced. Investing in nutrition through agriculture is not only socially responsible, it is sound development policy and good economics. Its impact is multi-generational, allowing children to reach their full physical and intellectual potential, so that they can grow into healthy adults and lift themselves out of poverty. The farms will produce:
(Tomatoes, Onions, Garlic, Dhania, Ginger, Carrots, Courgettes, Capsicum, Terere, Managu, Kunde, Kahurura, Sukuma wiki, Spinach, Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Lettuce).
(Passion fruits, Bananas, Avocados and Watermelon).
(Potatoes, Ngwaci, Pumpkin).
(Maize, Beans, Njahi, Ndengu, Pigeon Pea, Njugu, Lentils and Kamande).
We are looking forward to supporting our women in farming with the following:
- Seeds / Plant materials (access to better quality seed).
- Quick low-interest loans to facilitate their maintenance labor and markets.
- Digital services to share key information on production, weather, finance and markets.
- Support on land preparation through plowing using tracks to avoid spread of Covid-19 virus.
- Connect them to markets and services so they can produce more and earn more.
- Provide technical expertise as well as external peer reviewers.
- Helping them to improve their soil and manage pests.
- Water for irrigation and clean water use of solar pumps.
- Most cannot produce a large enough volume of products to interest buyers, and when they do, they are often hit with high transaction costs, making it difficult to earn a living and compete in markets. They need our capital support for expansion.
- Increase their capacity to save and build assets to ensure a more stable future.
- Financial Inclusion and literacy – for remittance recipient families can increase opportunities for formal savings and investment. In turn, these mechanisms can build the human capital of remittance families and improve their living standards through better education, health and housing. We also have alternative savings for some of the communities we are serving, where banks are very far and they don’t know the importance of savings u0026amp; loans.
- Help them to preserve their harvest (Drying, chilling and freezing) to prevent loss of a significant fraction of the harvest between gathering, transporting and selling at markets.
- Provide photovoltaic (PV) driven machinery (Grinder, mills, mechanical / electrical water pumps) to process units for crops, fruits, and spices, refrigerating, ice making, cold storage and drying.
- Introduce technology that will allow our women in the communities we are serving to access a wider range of financial products.
- Try to insure them for unavoidable risks that cannot be managed otherwise.
- Pay special attention to the role of women and adolescent girls, who make up a large percentage of the workforce in agriculture and food system in developing countries.
At UCESCO, we know the importance of animal sourced foods for ending hunger and poverty in areas of high malnutrition. They are the fastest way of getting vital nutrients to people who need them most among the women-led households we are serving. We also know that health diets are balanced diets. Together with livestock, crops, provide an important source of nutrition and income for our women.
That is why UCESCO plans to donate to some families in rural areas with enough space for livestock for either one cow / 10 to 50 flocks of chicks / 3 goats / 3 sheep / set up bees’ centers/ fish bonds, and other material goods, then train them and educate on the idea of passing on the gift to another needy family. This Concept of “passing on the gift” means that some form of the Livestock product (be it eggs, milk, wool or offspring) gets passed on to others in need so that the cycle may continue and build sustainable communities. This also helps to instill a sense of pride and dignity within these communities.
Livestock provide a wide range of nutritious protein rich food stuffs, such as eggs, meat, milk, and honey, which can be processed into a variety of products. Animals like goats are known for delicious milk, which can be used to create cheese that can be sold for income, in turn providing a family’s children the opportunity to go to school. Cows can give four gallons of milk a day, which families can drink to boost their nutrition or sell for extra income or make products like butter, cheese or yogurt to sell for more income. Honeybees boost income through sales of honey, and wax while stimulating growth of family’s crops through pollination. Manure is used as fertilizers for crops and as fuel for cooking in our villages. It can be composted or used for the production of methane in biogas digesters and drought power for crop cultivation, and transportation for people and goods to market. In the end, we will also be contribution to a more circular and sustainable environment and economy.
Also Livestock is where we get skins to make Leather, Pelts, Fibres such as wool, Mohair, Cashmere that our women use to make handmade products at our Curio Shops on top of other products made by our women such as Jewelries, Baskets, Beadwork, Necklaces, Carpets, Africa Wears Clothes, Liquid soaps, closed and open leather shoes, Masaai closed and open shoes, African ladies wear; Light material, embroidered material headgear (Gele), Fabrics, hoodies, Vitenges, African wedding outfits with blowing colors. All they require ethic clothing designs, with a large choice of African.
At the same time, some families/communities we serve with no access to financial services often use livestock as a form of asset management, investing in animals when they have extra money, and selling them when they need cash or other necessities. This strengthens the resilience of those families in the face of economic and climate shocks, enabling them to plan for the future.
We also support our women to protect their animal health, boost productivity and sustainability, link them to profitable markets, expose them to current technology transfer, credit for restocking, animal health services delivery, feed and breed improvement, and husbandry practices, increase their productivity and profitability by giving them direct access to critically needed resources, services and markets.
- Most Vulnerable women often face serious difficulties in accessing markets to sell their products and goods in the market place. Some are illiterates and analogue without even a small smart phone/IPad/ or notebook to sell their products through digital platform, especially during this pandemic period of corona Virus. They are constrained by their remote location or slum, and lack of business skills and an organization that could give them the bargaining power they require to interact on equal terms with other market intermediaries.
- It isn’t always easy to connect these women to markets, nor to ensure their produce meets market standards. Unequal distribution of power, also means these women from disadvantaged communities can earn significant less than, other actors, such as large processors, retailers and exporters.
- Therefore, helping poor women in the communities we are serving to access markets is a top priority for UCESCO. Better access to domestic and international markets allows our women to reliably sell more produce, with better quality and at higher prices which will help their children to go to school and feed them well as well as live their independent life as they will be part of social change in these communities’ economic development. This in turn encourages them to invest in their own businesses and increase the quantity, quality and diversity of the goods they produce.
- That is why UCESCO supports women to set up Hubs that are run by a Board of Directors appointed by themselves. Each Hub offers a range of different services to its members, support access to credit, the opportunity to buy quality feed at lower prices or purchasing supplies that can be difficult and expensive to access in rural areas such as de-wormers. Hubs are much more than service providers. In rural areas, it can be difficult for farmers to even access markets to sell their goods. Transport can be expensive and disadvantaged women are forced to sell to an intermediary, who takes a substantial amount of their profits. Through the Hubs, our women groups increase their bargaining power, transforming into active participants in local economies. By pooling their products and selling them in bulk, farmers can negotiate better prices and retain more of the profits. The Hubs also help them to organize transport and can secure large contracts with more Signiant customers such as dairies, restaurants and supermarkets as well as exporting to other countries and guarantee their members to deliver quality products at the levels needed to meet big orders.
At UCESCO, we also help women through our local staff:
- A. To identify opportunities to increase their incomes within different value chains.
- B. To sell their products out of their communities/ country to increase their return on investment.
- C. To partner with the private sector e.g. restaurants, supermarkets, malls etc. to provide them with a stable market for their products.
- D. To set up stores for them to sell their products.
- E. Carry out campaigns to advertise their products where needed.
- F. To train them and give them technical support to deliver.
- G. To support them with a revolving loan fund to meet larger orders without selling through third partners, to ensure more money goes back to the producers.
- H. To enable them access credits at a reduced rate through a guarantee scheme by partnering with local banks.
Our expert staff work with our women as they integrate climate-smart agricultural practices on their farms to increase resilience and crop production. We promote agro ecology and biodiversity, deploy soil and water conservation techniques, and reduce carbon footprints. We also support biogas plants that provide clean energy to local households, and irrigation projects that use water more efficiently.
We empower our women in 5 areas:
Developing skills for growth
We believe in connected economies. An active market place for our women creates income, savings, Education, Employment and opportunities for communities to retain their people and develop new skills and further earning potential.
Making the change from informal to formal markets isn’t an easy one. Informal markets transactions are rarely cash-in-hand and customers expect products to be a certain size and shape, as well as meet a set of quality standards. Business require careful management, which is why we provide training and support from local experts as our business women scale up production and sales.
Dairies, supermarket chains, restaurants and other big buyers want to know that their suppliers can deliver a consistent supply through the year. Usually, they want to buy in bulk from fewer locations, as it reduces transport costs. This can be a challenge for local farmers, who typically produce smaller quantiles of their products. Scaling up production can bring extra cost and greater risks for smaller business, but with the right training and support, new processes can be adopted that make better use of available resources.
This can be a challenge for local farmers who typically produce smaller quantities of their products. Scaling up production can bring extra costs and greater risks for smaller business, but with the right training and support new processes can be adopted that make better use of available resources.
For livestock projects, improved animal management is the key part of increasing yields. We train them to produce their own feed for their dairy cows. Not only does this reduce their cost, but it also improves their animal nutrition, and more than doubles the milk yield; increasing incomes as a result.
We also train them on how to use artificial incubators to hatch chicks, to keep their hens laying for longer, increasing income from egg sales and how to vaccinate and deworm their animals to increase their produce and income.
When selling to formal markets, quality is also important. Buyers want to know they are getting a reliable product that is safe to consume because it meets hygiene rules and regulations. We connect them with a local veterinarian who helps them identify and treat the problem their animal might have.
As farmers continue to scale up their business, ongoing training is essential. Selling into formal markets can be very different than local markets. Suppliers and vendors need to be managed, product quality needs to be carefully controlled and new markets need to be found for goods. Reliability is particularly important in formal markets, as it’s hard to retain clients if orders are not delivered on time.
When farmers sell at local markets, they get paid in cash right away. But when they sell to other businesses, they often don’t receive their money for 2-4 weeks. Working capital is needed to pay suppliers, staff and other core costs, and for many farmers that means they need to take out a business loan. To get approved, they need to show a business plan and be able to provide a record of their accounts. Record keeping and writing a business plan can be very daunting at first, that is why we provide business training to support farmers as they take these steps, making sure they have the skills and expertise needed to make their business successful.
Use of Technology
At the heart of transformation is constant innovation. Our women require a diverse set of tools and service as they build and often come with high startup costs, making them out of reach for many disadvantage women and especially those in the communities who have digital knowledge, because most of them are illiterate. Literacy is the pathway to a better quality of life. It has the power to improve health and diminish poverty for individuals, families and communities, and is fundamental to economic and social progress.
UCESCO wants to help ensure Women literacy levels continue to rise, to provide opportunities, which allow our women to advance their lifestyle and business. The participating women are among the most vulnerable we are serving, but they hold the potential to be production citizens. To fulfill that potential, they must become literate in oral and digital world and understand the cultural norms of life in Africa and the rest of the World.
For the last 3 years, UCESCO has been a critical junction for vulnerable women who need a safe, warm environment in which to learn English and technology. It is especially valuable for marginalized women who for cultural reasons cannot access education due to barriers such as poor background, remote or culture.
The target groups for this project are all Children and Women of the UCESCO target communities, which are poor and vulnerable in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. Emphasis will however be given to orphans, disadvantaged women-led-households, and those with pre-existing conditions such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, Chronic respiratory diseases, Malnutrition and Cancer.
Food donations will also be made to vulnerable households with children under the age of 2 years to mitigate the effects of increase in food prices and to protect children nutrition.
UCESCO will be collaborating with local governments, School teachers, University volunteers and like-minded organizations and community leaders. The scope and level of collaboration will be determined by the taskforces in each community who will map out the implementation guidelines.
Monitoring and Evaluation
There will be continuous monitoring and evaluation of implementation of our funded activities by the technical team. Reports will be generated and shared with all our stakeholders at regular intervals. Monthly meetings will take place for feedback and reviews. UCESCO will strengthen monitoring and evaluation system of this plan as follows:
- Conduct a survey on the effects of covid-19 to communities we are serving.
- Develop an integrated M u0026amp; E system to include Covid-19 to communities we are serving.
- Develop an integrated M u0026amp; E system to include Covid-19 and future crisis.
- Carry out regular M u0026amp; E of emergency response activities.
- Conduct feedback forums.
Resource Mobilization u0026amp; Financing
This plan will be financed through support from:
- Our well-wishers.
- Project income generating activities.
- Corporate CSR sponsorship and contribution.
- In –Kind contribution.
- Local Government support.
- Grants application and online crowd funding.
This is a two years’ emergency response plan for the period 1st August 2020 to 30th August 2022.
UCESCO – Africa
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