Prior to the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on 12 March 2020, an event in Malawi involving a handover from a donor would have been a large-scale ceremony, and included ministers, government officials, donors and members of the community.
The small-scale event pledging COVID-19 emergency protective materials to the ministries of Education and Health in Malawi, although no less valuable, illustrated the “new normal”. The event took place on 22 September 2020 at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) headquarters in Lilongwe.
The protective materials, made available by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), through its partners MIET AFRICA and Global Hope Mobilization (GLOHOMO), were symbolically handed over by the Honorary Consul for the Swiss Embassy in Malawi, Sylvia Giannacks. The pledge was received by the Deputy Director for School Health, Nutrition, HIV and AIDS in the MoEST, Virginia Kachigunda, on behalf of the Ministry.
The support provided was informed by an assessment of the COVID-19 situation in Malawi. Two key challenges facing the education sector were identified, namely inadequate WASH facilities and a lack of COVID-19 protective materials, for example masks and soap for the many vulnerable learners in FutureLife-Now! and CSTL schools.
The materials, which have since been delivered to the schools, included reusable face masks; hygiene soap; surgical masks; two water tanks per school; medical infrared thermometers; face shields; and COVID-19 learners’ booklets, facilitators’ manuals and posters.