Railway Children’s teams in East Africa are preparing for the impact of coronavirus. 

The situation in Tanzania is particularly challenging and changing daily. While the country is not at the same critical stage many are in the outbreak, with numbers of cases in hundreds rather than thousands and fatalities still less than 20, the authorities are acting now to reduce the impact of the virus once it hits with full force. Our dedicated and hardworking teams are doing whatever they can to keep supporting children there. 

We have identified the greatest needs for vulnerable children and families as being for food and medical support, emergency shelter and basic necessities like mattresses and sanitiser, but we are also looking at ways to communicate important health and safety advice such as through radio campaigns.

Our network of community champions is proving crucial in helping with this. Often familiar to the children already, they are distributing hygiene materials and advising children on the best ways to stay safe.

You can read more about our champions scheme here.

Schools have also closed, meaning many children are no longer getting the one meal a day they could rely on, and our teams have already seen an increase in numbers of children on the streets where they have little or no access to hand washing and cleanliness facilities.

Staff from several of our partner organisations have been involved in emergence response training organised by the government so that they are better prepared to deal with and support vulnerable groups during this crisis. They have been trained in the response mechanisms and services available so will be able to support as many vulnerable children as possible once the emergency plan is implemented by the Tanzanian authorities. In the last week alone we have been involved in seven government meetings making sure these plans are in place to support those that need us most.

We have also visited 165 families this week to assess their needs in the face of the virus and reunited 13 children with their families. We have met with 335 young people who are members of our youth association groups and held extra awareness sessions with them on the hygiene and prevention surrounding coronavirus. 

We will follow the guidance given... but we will do whatever we can to keep reaching children and families that need us.