A balancing act - Trade-offs in curbing the impacts of the pandemic in Guinea

In response to the worrying situation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Guinean Government put a “Thirty Measures Economic Response Plan to the COVID-19 Health Crisis” in place. National institutions, ministerial departments, territorial administrators, local elected officials, the private sector and civil society organisations were all put in charge to ensure that health barriers are respected and that projects and programmes are implemented as part of the fight against the pandemic.

Strong advocacy has been undertaken with bilateral and multilateral partners in order to support Guinea in curbing the spread of the disease.

ODDI-GUINEE, motivated by the reality on the ground, developed and implemented a project called “Support for Peaceful Coexistence and COVID-19 Prevention for Vulnerable Households in the Mining Prefectures of Boké, Boffa, Télimélé and Fria” in order to strengthen the prevention of the spread of the pandemic in these prefectures, as their economic activity makes up for most of the country’s export and is therefore essential to the population’s income and thus, stability. 

There is a close link between the precariousness of populations and social conflicts of all kinds. The particularity of this project is the outreach to households plagued by domestic conflicts linked to the lack of work and the impossibility of coping with family burdens. Restrictive measures have weakened households to the extent that some couples have come close to divorce.

Awareness-raising activities and support in the form of health kits and basic necessities have enabled these groups to accept their situation and understand the context of the pandemic. Peacebuilding is a holistic and everyday task. The shared messages are important, but addressing the causes of conflict is an urgent necessity. In fragile states, there is a close link between conflict and poverty.

It is clear that the root causes of social unrest lie in the poor quality of life of people who are stagnating because of increased poverty.

ODDI-GUINEE, is a civil society organisation specialising in the all-round support of vulnerable groups in the fight against poverty and the promotion of sustainable peace, which is the cradle for the implementation of public and social policies for harmonious development.

Since its creation in 2011, our organisation has been developing partnerships in this direction. The present dually preventive project is intended to be extended in order to further preserve peace and help vulnerable households cope with family burdens and direct and indirect costs of schoolgoing children during this period of COVID-19.

CSPPS is a strategic partner of ODDI-GUINEE in the implementation of projects related to peace- and statebuilding in the Republic of Guinea.

Despite the health crisis that has caused the sudden halt of most Guinean socio-economic activities, the mining sector has managed to escape the consequences of the pandemic until now, as the production and transfer of minerals, which constitute 80% of exports in Guinea, has stayed relatively stable.

This situation can be explained by the strong efforts and efficient measures put in place to prevent the spread of the virus. These efforts have been of crucial importance as a halt of the production in the mining sector - a sector of utter importance to the State - would certainly cause deep social unrest due to the precariousness of the population.

The project “Support for Peaceful Coexistence and COVID-19 prevention in Favour of Vulnerable Households in the Mining Prefectures of Boké, Boffa, Télimélé and Fria”, initiated by ODDI-GUINEE, with the technical and financial support of the CSPPS, led to the following results:

  • Identification of 100 vulnerable households (25 per prefecture).
  • Provision of health kits and food to these households.
  • Provision of  information on preventive measures through educational talks and focus groups.
  • Promotion of a culture of peace in order to avoid a negative impact on the mining activity, which is the foundation of the national economy.
  • Strengthening of the visibility of civil society and CSPPS actions in the fight against the pandemic and the preservation of peace.

The new objective today is to promote this dynamic in all mining localities so that peace can be strengthened and populations are better supported to face the reality of health and nutritional support.

Indicators tell us that  to a large extent, as long as the mining sector remains on its current course,  the disease will have little impact on the contribution of the mining sector to the Guinean economy, which accounts for 25% of revenue to the public treasury. Which is why efforts and projects like these need to be continued.

Guinea deserves to be accompanied in the fight against the pandemic in general and in sensitive localities in particular.

Finally, ODDI-Guinea identified the following recommendations through focus groups and talks with the beneficiaries:

  • Need for the intensification of this type of initiative in mining localities in order to save this crucial sector of the Guinean national economy.
  • Need for the extension of these activities to all mining localities, both at the level of urban and rural communities.
  • Need to strengthen conflict prevention and management and to promote peaceful coexistence between mining populations and companies.

The video showcases how awareness and key messages were conveyed to the beneficiaries in the national language.

- Mariama Bailo Bah & Mamadou Saidou Balde, FP Guinea - ODDI-GUINEE



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