After the Swiss Federal Council announced the lockdown on 16 March, Biovision rapidly enacted its prepared pandemic plan. Since then, over 90% of employees have been working from home, and operations continue despite obstacles. But what does the situation look like for our project partners in sub-Saharan Africa?
When the Federal Council decided on a lockdown three weeks ago because of the Corona crisis, none of us could have imagined what this would mean for Biovision and its staff. For several days now, the change in mood in the Secretariat has been noticeable: more subdued, nervous and uncertain. Thanks to a prepared pandemic plan, intensive internal and external communication and an excellent infrastructure, we were able to quickly reorganise our operations and adapt to the changed circumstances: meetings, events, and visits to project countries were cancelled, procedures reorganized, home offices set up, and more. Here, we can consider ourselves lucky to be able to rely on our health system, and we do not have to worry about going hungry thanks to a functioning food supply. But …
… What does Corona mean for Africa?
Members of our development projects team have been closely observing the Corona situation in our project countries through various media sources and the Internet since the beginning of March. Nevertheless, our most important contact persons are our project partners on site. Biovision itself does not employ staff in project countries. Projects are implemented by local partner organisation employees, or in some cases, village volunteers. The Coronavirus has now arrived in sub-Saharan Africa, about two to three weeks behind Switzerland. The authorities are reacting similarly: with travel and assembly bans, curfews, regulations on hygiene and social distancing.
Despite the lockdown, life goes on
At present, our partners are busy reorganising their work and keeping operations running as well as possible. Since the rainy season started at the beginning of March, field cultivation has begun everywhere. The next harvest is now especially important! In a Skype interview with Biovision, Alex Wostry, co-founder and Director of operations, explains how Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania has prepared itself and continues to support smallholder families in the Morogoro region despite the Corona crisis.
On Air: Covid-19 “Farmer Communication Programme”
DThose responsible for the “Farmer Communication Programme (FCP)” from our sister organisation Biovision Africa Trust in Kenya (BvAT) also reacted quickly. They changed the content and programmes for their channels and are now additionally informing the population about how to protect themselves against the Corona virus. For example, the radio programme “The Organic Farmer” is dispatched to people in remote regions directly in their local language, and regional information centres inform visitors about protection measures. Information on Covid-19 and health protection measures are also available online on the well-known and frequently used information platform Infonet-Biovision.org.