Covid, Le Korsa and Senegal – from Alan Riding
Mar 30, 2020

With COVID-19 now sweeping the United States and Europe, Africa is bracing for its own wave of infection, with the added complications of overcrowded cities, poor infrastructure and a dearth of medical supplies and trained personnel. At Le Korsa, we’re mobilizing to help in Senegal.

Fortunately, Senegal is not the most vulnerable country on the continent, although the government has already ordered confinement and suspended international travel. Senegal also has a basic health structure and is home to a branch of the Pasteur Institute, the French foundation which researches and treats infectious diseases. The Institute in Dakar is working with a British laboratory, Mologic, to develop a cheap and rapid diagnostic test for COVID-19.

In the current crisis, we have obtained masks and antiseptic gel for the Fann Hospital in Dakar and for the Women’s Center, which was founded by Le Korsa, also in Dakar. In the Tambacounda region of south-east Senegal, where our work is concentrated, our team has also acquired masks and gel for the health clinics in the villages of Sinthian and Fass. At Tambacounda’s only hospital, construction is going ahead on a new gynaecological and pediatric wing financed by Le Korsa, but work may be halted by further confinement measures.

Schools have already closed across Senegal, but we continue to pay the salaries of the teachers at the Fass primary school and the Sinthian kindergarten, which Le Korsa built. At the Foyer des Jeunes Filles inTambacounda, the 144 young women who live there while attending secondary school have had to return to their villages, although we are covering the wages of the staff.  Further, we’ve decided to provide a monthly stipend to the freelance drivers who insure our mobility in Dakar and Tambacounda and, critically, for the seven-hour between the two cities.

It’s too early to gauge how badly Senegal will be hit by the pandemic – as of today, 142 cases of infection and no deaths have been reported – but it’s evident that, as with any natural disaster,  the most fragile will suffer most. Where possible, we’ll be there to offer them a helping hand.

Stay safe!

Warmest,

Alan

Former New York Times journalist Alan Riding is a longstanding supporter of Le Korsa and is active in our French association, Les Amis du Korsa.