The corona crisis affects us all. Actions have been taken worldwide: schools are closed, people are working from home and stay inside as much as possible. In some countries there is a lock down. The world looks different at this moment. As an international social venture, we closely monitor the situation. With our offices and partners all around the world we take appropriate measures. Although we face challenges we feel the need to use this time to seek for opportunities. We talked with Mathieu Briard, director of our office in Burkina Faso, about the situation in his country and the opportunities that he sees.
At FairMatch Support we work from different offices and with partners around the world. The areas where we work, for example in Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire, are vulnerable. Health care is insufficient and in different countries there are conflicts. Our partners worldwide notice the impact on their daily work. Together with them we continue to carry out our projects as much as possible and we take the time to look forward.
Mathieu: “In Burkina Faso we face huge challenges. Our health case system is not as efficient as in Europe or in The United States and we won’t be able to take on a large number of patients. A lot of measures have been taken by the government to limit the spread: schools, restaurants and bars, churches and mosques and large markets are closed. Our capital is under quarantine so we can’t travel outside of the city and there is a curfew. When you go to public places like a supermarket or a bank your temperature is being checked. And people take measures themselves. I see a lot of motorcyclists wearing a mask. At our office we have taking the necessary actions; we stay a couple of meters away from each other and we have introduced hydroalcoolique gel and other safety equipment.
A large problem here is that millions of people do informal work in markets and on the street. So they can’t work from home. For them, a day without work means a day less eating. Social distancing is also difficult in Africa: social life always takes place in groups. So yes, we have to be careful and alert”.
“However, I notice in Burkina Faso also creativity and solidarity. People are helping each other. The mayor of Ouagadougou, our capital, asks to use this time to properly clean the markets so people will be able to work safety after the closure. Here at FairMatch Support West Africa we work with local companies, local processors and farmer cooperation’s. We show solidarity and work together on continuing our work. In times like this we should look, besides the present, also at the future. How can we make sure that our work continues? What can we do for the farmers that we works with? How can we stay in contact with partners and how can we prepare ourselves for when this is over? So that we are ready and not have to start up again.
Opportunities for digitization
One of the opportunities we see is digitization. We’re acting on this for a while now. The outbreak of Ebola and our experience in Sierra Leone during that period showed us that our work can be fragile when you can’t meet in person. During the Ebola period we started to work with farmer leaders and audio to continue the training without being together in the field. With the development of the famers leaders training program we can still be in contact with this leaders who can transfer information to a large group of farmers. We notice that these systems are working really well. This way we stay in contact and know what’s happening at farmer level.
“Yes, we face challenges but I think we have to use this crisis to find ways how we can improve our work. Now, but also when this is over”.