A City in Lock-Down

On 21st March 2020, Madagascar reported its first three cases of COVID-19.

Declared a ‘State of Health Emergency’ two days later, Antananarivo was placed in lock-down with strict restrictions implemented to deal with the spread of the virus. Schools, including our CLCs, were also closed at this time.

One containment measure allowed for only grocery stores and other similar large-scale food suppliers to be open, and only one person per household permitted to shop.

With firm penalties warned for anyone breaking the rules, food vendors and market sellers closed up for the foreseeable future.

It’s difficult to imagine the streets emptied of the bustling and buoyant markets in full flight. Ordinarily, the city is jammed-packed with stall after stall, ready to sell raw meat, locally grown fruit and vegetables and newly baked bread and pastry treats. Everything is fresh, in lieu of available refrigeration.

Often, lucrative partnerships are formed within families or clans to make a living. Some would have the morning job of heading out before sunlight to gather produce and transport it back to town. The goods are handed along the chain to those who might prepare it for selling. Once ready, the seller works their charm and hopefully by the end of the day, the stall is bare and everyone involved takes a cut of the profit, to buy food for their own families waiting at home.

In a global pandemic, the tap of resource from outside the city gets turned off temporarily.

For a culture that heavily relies on the sourcing and selling of produce for livelihoods, the last few weeks have presented a significant challenge. Many families have struggled to put a meal on the table for their families. Money is the recurrent issue for survival in Madagascar.

With restrictions on goods coming in and out of the city and food prices spiking as they often do in times of crisis here, viable food supplies became severely compromised.

When we put the call out to our network on social media that food accessibility was a problem in this time, they responded. Over $1000 has been generously given to support families with food relief during this crisis. With each Australian dollar multiplying in purchasing power by approximately 16 times in Madagascar, these donations will go a long way to feeding hungry people. Thank you!

As of Wednesday 29th April, the country is continuing to see some relief in the lifting of restrictions. Certain daily activities such as public transport, approved work and specified social engagements resumed, with observation of social distancing guidelines and compulsory use of masks still needed for all.

The COVID-19 virus has been quickly and effectively contained in country, to date, with no recorded fatalities (at the time of writing).  This is good news for a nation who already deals with significant hardship on a daily basis.

With access to affordable food still problematic in Antananarivo, we have kept our Food Relief appeal active. To help our CLC families, visit our Partner page and make a ‘General Donation’.

Please note: Food Relief donations are non-tax deductible.

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