Namibia’s living museums face uncertain future amid COVID-19 pandemic

Mafwe Living Museum.The Mafwe present their old, almost forgotten culture. (Image Courtsey of Museums Association of Namibia)

The outbreak of COVID-19 has put the existence of Namibia’s living museums in jeopardy as they struggle to stay-afloat with no income coming in from international tourists.

Just like all country’s in the world, Namibia’s tourism sector has been affected by the outbreak of COVID-19 with zero international tourists since March.

This has affected the country’s living museums which get about 96 percent of income from international tourists.

Elizabeth Yalezo has been part of the Mafwe Living Museum in the northern Zambezi region for the past 10 years teaching tourists about the local silozi culture.

She made a commitment to uproot her family and live at the museum doing what she loves but the outbreak of COVID-19 is threatening her livelihood.

“We have had no income for the past four months, we are hungry,” Yalezo said.

Previously when Namibia’s tourism industry was booming, the museum would sometimes make over a 100,000 Namibian dollars (about 5,682 U.S. dollars) a month, which would be shared among the 45 members.

“We used to make a lot of money but once it is shared between all the members it is not a lot. Unfortunately we have not been able to build up reserves in previous years. we have all been surviving from hand to mouth, thus we are starving at the moment,” she said.

The Namibian government gave aid of 750 Namibian dollars to Namibians who lost their jobs because of COVID-19 but unfortunately this was not applicable to communal projects.

The situation has been made worse because even though local tours were allowed after the countrywide lockdown, the Namibian economy is so weakened that there are hardly any people travelling.

“If we were at least getting local visitors it would have been better but there are no visitors coming. We really need assistance,” Yalezo said.

The living museums in Namibia are exceptional traditional projects where visitors can learn about the cultures of the different tribes in the country.

The museums were established with the aim of preserving the country’s traditional culture while also fighting poverty in rural areas through income generated from the museums.

At the living museums, tourists get a chance to experience interactive learning of different Namibian cultures where they live at the museums for a couple of days seeing how the tribes live their lives.

According to a representative from Namibia Living Culture Foundation Sebastian Durrschmidt, the living museums have done very well for surrounding communities in terms of income generation and exposure.

He said, the museums are the only employers in the six villages where they were developed and the loss of income also means a subsequent collapse of all income for the remaining village communities.

“Over 2,000 lives are at risk of losing income and their livelihoods. The living museums are at the brink of collapsing if tourism does not start soon,” Durrschmidt added.

Statistics from the Living Culture Foundation show that during 2017 and 2018 when Namibia’s tourism was at its peak, all six living museums were visited by about 30,000 tourists.

“A high number of visitors means a good income for the communal living museums. The income will not only provide food security but also school fees. Some invest in livestock and vegetable gardens,” Durrschmidt said.

Rimunatavi Tjipurua, a manager at the Ovahimba Living Museum, said life at the communal museum had become unbearable and sad.

Namibia this month opened its borders to international tourists but with the surge in cases where the country recorded over 1, 000 positive cases in just two weeks, the tourism sector is doubtful that tourism will pick up anytime soon.

The country has far recorded 2,802 COVID-19 cases and 16 deaths.

Africa’s COVID-19 cases surge to 1.02 million

A health worker takes the temperature of a person standing in line for mass testing in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya, May 26, 2020. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

The Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) on Saturday revealed that the number of COVID-19 cases across the African continent surged to 1,022,084.

The Africa CDC, a specialized healthcare agency of the 55-member African Union (AU) Commission, in its latest situation update issued on Saturday, said that the number of deaths related to COVID-19 rose from 22,066 on Friday to 22,461 on Saturday.

The continental disease control and prevention agency also said the number of people who recovered from their COVID-19 infections passed the 700,000 mark.

According to Africa CDC data, some 705,016 COVID-19 patients have recovered across the continent as of Saturday, an increase of 14,580 recoveries from Friday figures.

South Africa is Africa’s highest affected country in terms of positive cases, followed by Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria and Morocco, it was noted.

The Southern Africa region is the most affected area in terms of confirmed cases, followed by Northern Africa and Western Africa regions, the Africa CDC said.

Egypt’s COVID-19 cases rise to 95,314

People wearing face masks are seen in a shopping mall in Cairo, Egypt, on Aug. 7, 2020. Egypt registered on Friday 141 new COVID-19 cases, taking the total infections in the country to 95,147, said the Egyptian Health Ministry. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)

Egypt confirmed on Saturday 167 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total infections in the country to 95,314, said the Health Ministry.

It is the seventh consecutive day for the daily COVID-19 infections in Egypt to fall below 200. The daily count started to exceed 200 on April 23 before hitting a record 1,774 on June 19.

Meanwhile, 21 patients died from the coronavirus on Saturday, taking the death toll in Egypt to 4,992, while 1,119 more patients left hospitals, bringing the total recoveries to 51,672, the ministry’s spokesman Khaled Megahed said in a statement.

Egypt decided last week to ban the entry into the country without a negative PCR test for COVID-19, except for tourists arriving on direct flights at the airports of Sharm el-Sheikh, Hurghada, Taba and Marsa Alam.

The most populous Arab country announced its first confirmed COVID-19 case on Feb. 14 and the first death from the highly infectious virus on March 8.

From the first week of July, the daily coronavirus infections and fatalities in Egypt started to gradually decline along with an increase in daily recoveries.

Egypt resumed international flights in early July, after it lifted a partial curfew imposed since late March, and reopened restaurants, cafes, theaters and cinemas, as well as hotels, museums and archeological sites, all with limited capacity.

Easing restrictions is part of a coexistence plan adopted by the government to maintain anti-coronavirus precautionary measures while resuming economic activities.

Egypt and China have been working together on fighting the pandemic through exchanging medical aid and expertise.

In early February, Egypt provided aid to China to help with its fight against COVID-19 and China later sent three batches of medical aid to the North African country, the latest of which was in mid-May.

Merck Foundation joins hands with First Ladies of Africa to raise awareness about Coronavirus and how to stay safe and healthy

Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany together with African First Ladies of Ghana, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, Namibia, Niger, Guinea Conakry, Burundi, Central African Republic (C.A.R.), Chad, Zimbabwe, Zambia, The Gambia, Liberia and Congo Brazzaville, announced the call for applications for their ‘Stay at Home” Media Recognition Awards for African countries. The theme of the awards is ‘Raising Awareness on how to Stay Safe and keep Physically and Mentally Healthy during Coronavirus Lockdown’.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation explains, “This unsettling period due to the coronavirus scare is difficult for everyone – both physically and mentally. While most countries are under complete lockdown or restricted movement, people do not know how to handle this situation. Social Distancing is our Social Responsibility and the only way to kill Coronavirus, however, it will take a lot of courage and discipline to practice it. Taking good care of your mental and physical health is important during this period. So, we decided to initiate these awards in order to reward the journalists who are raising awareness in most effective and creative way on how to keep safe and keep physically & mentally healthy during this phase”.

All the journalists from Print, Online, Radio and Multimedia Platforms from English speaking, French speaking, Arabic speaking and Portuguese speaking African countries are invited to send their entries for the awards. The most creative and influential media work aiming to raise awareness and sensitizing communities about this alarming topic at a regular basis will be eligible to win these awards.

“We have created four categories for Africa; English, French, Portuguese and Arabic speaking countries”, Dr Kelej added.

Merck Foundation will extend the awards to include Middle Eastern, Latin American and Asian Countries in the next few days to involve all media across the global South. 

“Since most of the people are confined to their homes, they are spending a lot of time reading and listening to news through different platforms. Media professionals, it is your time to help the people to take care good care of their mental & physical health during these disturbing times, through your creative, informational and motivational work. You can guide them to adjust to their new and different routine & rhythm of life”, emphasized Dr. Rasha Kelej.

Details of the Merck Foundation “Stay at Home” Media Recognition Awards

Who can Apply:

Journalists from Print, Online, Radio and Multimedia Platforms from English speaking, French speaking, Arabic speaking and Portuguese speaking African countries

Last date of submission:

Entries can be submitted till 30th June 2020

How to apply?

Entries can be submitted via Email to info@merck-foundation.com along with your details (including Name, Gender, Country, Media house, Email address & Mobile Number) and entry as an attachment

Categories and Prize Money:

CategoryTVRadioPrintOnline
Prize Money(Upto)USD 500USD 500USD 500USD 500

UN chief calls for better urban preparedness to ward off future health crises

By Jerry Omondi

FILE PHOTO: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the opening of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York, September 25, 2018. /Reuters Photo‍

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called upon governments to “rethink and reshape the urban world” to ensure they are better prepared for any future crises.

Guteres said the inequalities and shortcomings that exist in many urban regions globally have helped fuel the spread of COVID-19.

“And now is our chance to recover better, by building more resilient, inclusive and sustainable cities”, he said in his recorded message launching the latest UN policy brief, “COVID-19 in an urban world”.

The UN chief highlighted deeply rooted inequalities in the poorest areas, citing strained health systems, inadequate water and other challenges that cities are facing in common, with 90 per cent of reported COVID-19 cases concentrated in urban areas.

His message comes as the world’s number of COVID-19 infections have surpassed 16.5 million with a death toll exceeding 654,000.

“We must prioritize those who are the most vulnerable in our cities, including guaranteeing safe shelter for all and emergency housing to those without homes,” said Guterres.

He called upon governments to put more focus on informal settlements in efforts to strengthen their preparedness for any future health crises.

COVID-19: IMF approves $4.3 billion emergency package to help South Africa

By David Ochieng Mbewa

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo is seen outside the headquarters building in Washington. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

The International Monetary Fund on Monday announced the approval of $4.3 billion in emergency support to South Africa to help it address the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

South Africa is Africa’s most industrialised country but has been severely affected socially and economically by the pandemic. With more than 445,000 confirmed cases, South Africa is the worst affected country in Africa accounting for more than half of the continent’s cases.

According to the South African government, the funding is a “low interest loan that contributes to government’s fiscal relief package.”

“The country has been hard hit by the pandemic, and this required government to come up with fiscal and monetary measures that would respond to the struggling economy and contain its negative effects to society,” a statement from South Africa’s National Treasury said.

The government added that the funds will go towards supporting health and frontline services, protecting the most vulnerable, driving job creation, unlocking economic growth through reforms and stabilising public debt.

“It will also pave the way for government to provide the necessary financial relief required to forge a new economy and mitigate further harm to the economy.”

A statement from the IMF said that the funding will fill the urgent Balance of Payment (BOP) need arising from the fiscal pressures posed by the pandemic. It adds that it will limit regional spillovers and catalyze additional financing from other international financial institutions.

“It will complement the authorities’ strong policy response to the crisis and their planned post-COVID-19 fiscal consolidation and reforms to promote growth that benefits all South Africans,” the IMF said.

According to a report by ratings agency S&P Global Ratings, South Africa’s economy is expected to contract by nearly 7 percent.

South Africa was quick to respond to the pandemic imposing some of the strictest measures globally including a two-month lockdown. However, the government subsequently came under heavy public pressure to relax the very same measures due to the economic hardships resulting from their implementation.

The government was forced to take drastic measures in an attempt to cushion the economy from the effects of the pandemic. In April, President Cyril Ramaphosa a 500 billion rand ($28.86 billion) relief package equivalent to 10 percent of the nation’s GDP to bolster the economy.

South Africa is one of many the countries that instituted gradual re-opening of their economies to allow citizens to try and make ends meet and ward off the prospect of long-term damage to their economies.

Uganda’s Museveni tests negative for COVID-19

By Jerry Omondi

FILE PHOTO: Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni speaks at a past function. /Photo courtesy: Yoweri Museveni – Twitter

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has tested negative for COVID-19 after developing a sore throat, one of the symptoms of the disease.

The 75-year-old made the announcement after his official nomination as the ruling party National Resistance Movement presidential flag bearer in the 2021 polls.

“I got a sore throat and rough voice. My first call was corona-19 (COVID-19). So I called the doctors early Sunday. They took the sample and by evening they came back and said no corona (virus),” said Museveni.

The president also took the opportunity to warn Ugandans against taking health protocols for granted, saying it risked causing a spike in deaths.

The East African country has reported 1,135 infections and two deaths, according to data from the ministry of health.

989 people have successfully recovered from the disease.

Uganda is scheduled to hold its general elections in February 2021, and Museveni will be seeking to extend his rule beyond 35 years.

Somalia secures $25 million grant to fight COVID-19

By CGTN Africa

FILE PHOTO – The headquarters of the African Development Bank (AfDB) are pictured in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. REUTERS/Luc Gnago/File Photo

The African Development Bank said on Monday it had approved grants worth about 25.1 million U.S. dollars to Somalia to shore up government efforts to mitigate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lender said the government will use the funds to carry out three interlinked responses to the pandemic that will enhance the health system, safeguard livelihoods and social protection, and support labor force productivity and economic activity.

The Horn of Africa nation has so far confirmed 3,178 COVID-19 cases, 1,521 recoveries and 93 deaths as of Sunday.

UN agencies and partners said they have scaled up their responses despite operational challenges due to COVID-19 containment measures such as most staff working remotely, in restricted environments, or from home.

Somalia has also experienced swarms of locusts over the past year that have increased food insecurity.

China helps Ghana’s ruling party to fight COVID-19 with medical supplies

Chairman of Ghana’s ruling New Patriotic Party Frederick Armah Blay (3rd R) poses for a photo with other officials during a handover ceremony of medical supplies in Accra, Ghana, on July 27, 2020. The International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) presented a consignment of medical supplies to Ghana’s ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) here on Monday. (Xinhua/Xu Zheng)

The International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) presented a consignment of medical supplies to Ghana’s ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) here on Monday.

The consignment of 6,000 boxes of disposable surgical face masks were to help the party to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus among its rank and file.

As the Ghanaian people are suffering these trying times, the CPC empathizes and stands firmly with the Ghanaian people in contending with the daunting challenge, said the Charge d’Affaires of the Chinese Embassy Zhu Jing during the presentation of the items.

He added that the anti-epidemic supplies arranged by the International Department of the Central Committee of the CPC were to support the NPP to prevent the spread of the pandemic among its members and officials.

Receiving the donation, the Chairman of the NPP Frederick Armah Blay expressed gratitude to the Chinese government and the CPC for their continued support for Ghana.

He also thanked them for the show of solidarity with the NPP during these challenging times in Ghana.

Uganda registers 2nd COVID-19 death

By Nyawira Mwangi –

A man washes his hands before entering a shopping arcade in Kampala, Uganda, July 22, 2020. (Photo by Nicholas Kajoba/Xinhua)

Uganda reported a second COVID-19 death, the ministry of health said on Sunday.

According to a ministry statement, the victim was an 80-year-old female who was first admitted at a private hospital in the capital Kampala on Friday and later referred to a bigger hospital.

“Upon admission at Mengo Hospital she presented with symptoms consistent to COVID-19 which include cough, fever, chest pain, and difficulty in breathing,” the statement said.

Postmortem samples were later analyzed and confirmed to be COVID-19.

The contact tracing and listing process have been initiated, according to the statement.

The ministry said it registered 12 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the cumulative tally to 1,115. The recovery cases were 975.