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THE PUSH AND PULL OF COVID-19 STATE FOOD AID IN BUSUMBALA VILLAGE

Gambia: 3 June | By Yero S. Bah


THE PUSH AND PULL OF COVID-19 STATE FOOD AID IN BUSUMBALA VILLAGE


As the coronavirus food aid continues to be distributed across the Gambia by the state, on Wednesday 3 June, 2020, GunjurOnline went out and about to gauge the situation on the ground in Busumba Village, West Coast Region.

Governments’s Covid-19 food aid distribution at Busumba Village

Under a scorching sun, dusty environment and “push and pull”atmosphere, the people of Busumbala village receive their state food aid provided by the Barrow led government amid a global pandemic. The scenario at Busumbala food distribution grounds show a total disregard of the coronavirus health preventive and protective measures issued by the Ministry of Health and World Health Organization such as social distancing, frequent hand washing and wearing of face masks in public gatherings.


The residents of Busumbala have been converging at Model Senior Secondary grounds to get their food aid from the state for the past two days. Musa Sowe, a resident with a family of five said that, he received 25 kilos of rice, 25 kilos of sugar and five liters of cooking oil after queuing for over six hours. He expressed his frustrations to GunjurOnline over the poorly organized system of the food distribution saying none of the health protocols against coronavirus are observed by the state and the ordinary citizens of the whole process in Busumbala village. “With technology, they could have make things easier for us but here everything is still manual.”


For Gim Jarju, the ticketing and registration was done wrongly because people who can’t read properly were hired to do the job which he claimed led to the entire system been mixed up saying lining up over 700 to 800 people with some who are in their octogenarian ages is too bad whilst describing the entire process as disorganized. “Convening residents of a village of the size of Busumbala in one place in the midst of a deadly virus like coronavirus defeats the purpose of the emergency protocols especially the closure of mosques and churches.”


Mr. Jarju urged government not try to politicize this food aid saying people are politically aware now that the source of the food aid comes from the national coffers. He explained that, what should have been done was to use the local councils in each ward to distribute the food aid decently as well as notify recipients through their telephone numbers to the days and groups they belongs before gathering everyone in crowds in this bug pandemic.

According to Eliman Mboob, social distancing is not observed at all noting that government didn’t even put hand washing, face-masks or sanitizers at the distribution venues for safety precautions. “You can’t apply state laws in halves.”

Another resident of Busumbala Village whom GunjurOnline spoke to was Ousman Manneh who describes the process as “shambles” saying he visited the food aid distribution ground for two days without rice, sugar or cooking oil noting the he has been ping-ponged by the local authorities.

People have been asked to go with empty containers such as finished bags of rice, empty gallons but they complained that they were never informed of such procedures prior to visiting the centers saying government could have communicated this issue before they get to the venues.


With all these challenges, one really need to ask questions as to what is the point of the food aid, the role of modernity and technology in recent years and the need for such food aid and how long will such food aid keep families indoors?



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