By Musa Bah
Since the outbreak of the dreaded corona virus dubbed COVID19 some five months ago, countries around the world have groped to prevent its spread or contain it as it has no cure or vaccine as yet. But the measures taken by most governments to prevent its spread include a #stay at home campaign which has some very serious consequences for people who live from hand to mouth i.e. almost everyone in the case of the Gambia.
We have seen a multitude of individuals and private businesses coming out to render assistance in the area of the provision of food and other items to the needy in the country. Every other day one sees people donating rice, oil and other consumables to people deemed to be in need. Even some political parties have come to the aid of some citizens.
The efforts to alleviate the suffering is indeed laudable as otherwise there will be a disaster of great proportions if people are unable to stay at home to avoid being infected. This is therefore welcome. However, the disjointed nature in which it is being done leaves a lot to be desired. As this is a national issue, the best thing would have been for there to be a central committee to manage and coordinate the efforts to ensure that the impact is felt nationwide.
Such a committee would have identified the people who truly need the assistance and what form of assistance would suit them best. They would have then received all donations of all forms from all who wish to assist so that they can go on to distribute it properly among those identified.
As it is though most of the people and groups seeking to help are going round the same localities of the urban areas which may cause a serious duplication of efforts. This is not the most appropriate way to handle crisis of this nature. It is rather unfortunate that with a whole government and a multitude of experts of every known human field available here in the country, we could not get one centralized committee to coordinate these donations and assistance to ensure that the most deserving of this help in the country receive it.
On many instances, one wonders whether the donors are more interested in the publicity than the assistance itself. Of course, many are genuine, but there will certainly be those who have ulterior motives in the efforts. Had there been a central coordinating committee, the issue of people doing it for publicity or for other motives could have been eliminated.
The Government agencies like the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), Gambia Bureau of Statistics, the Gambia Red Cross Society, the Department of Social Welfare, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Health, the National Assembly, some NGOs could have formed a committee which will be the umbrella body to oversee all the assistance in order to ensure that all who need receive assistance.
Is it because the Government of the Gambia is not planning to give any form of assistance to the citizens that they have not sought to set up such a committee? Most governments around the world, even in Africa, are working on ways to help their citizens during this horrendous time of corona virus. It is inexplicable that the government of the Gambia has still not said a word on how they intend to help the people, if they indeed intend to!
We are calling on the government to come up with measures to help the people. This is not just for the people but for the State as well because it is the people that form the State, without a people, there won’t be a state. The State is because we are!!!