The challenge that the project addresses
At least one in five people have a learning, mental health, physical, sensory or other disability. All these disabilities make this group of people uniquely vulnerable to the disruptive consequences of Covid-19. Little has been done to provide people with disabilities with the support needed to protect them during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, even though many of them are part of the high-risk group. Whether we are talking about issues of food insecurity, access to healthcare/testing, switching to telework, or life-or-death medical decisions, people with disabilities are deeply impacted. This crisis demands leadership at every level of government, every sector of civil society, and from the disability community itself.
For people with disabilities, all the general challenges that come with covid19 certainly apply, but there are additional challenges for people living with disabilities that our project seeks to address.
Face masks are expensive
Besides the difficult challenges of looking after the needs of their living, people with disabilities find themselves with an added expense of buying a mask. With the high demand for masks as a result of Covid19, everybody is rushing to buy a mask. Not only do people living with disabilities have limited mobility, they are also faced with the high costs of the masks.
Lack of clean water and soap
Sanitation is still a major challenge in many informal settlements of Cape Town. The best way to prevent Covid-19 is to wash your hands as often as possible with clean running water. Washing of hands is highly recommended for at least 20 seconds in order to minimize the infection risk. However, in areas where our project operates, there are certain areas where water is a problem. People in these areas walk to a certain point for them to fetch water. Given this water problem, frequent hand washing is not always feasible for some people with certain types of physical disabilities as they would not be able to travel to those points to get some water. Washing hands regularly in such communities will not be possible. If water is provided by the local government, people living with disabilities will always compete to get water with the able-bodied. In order to fight the spread of coronavirus, the World Health Organization recommends the use of clean water and soap.
Sanitizers are expensive
If soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can help avoid getting sick and spreading the virus to others. As the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus continues, demand for basic sanitary items namely hand sanitizer is increasing along, leading to hand sanitizer sold out at stores across South Africa. Their prices skyrocketed. The hand sanitizers which were earlier priced at R40 are now R150. This has adversely affected everybody and is causing the virus to spread because people cannot afford to purchase these sanitizers. Poor people, especially those living with disabilities in the poor communities that our projects operate, cannot afford to buy high-cost hand sanitizers, living them vulnerable to the virus. Although the use of sanitizers is recommended, for the people living with disabilities in poor communities, it becomes a luxury as they cannot afford to buy them. Their priority remains basic needs for survival such as food. But this does not exclude them from the threat of the virus.
As Covid-19 spreads across the world it is important that everyone stays armed with the right information. During this period of coronavirus, nobody must be left out due to a lack of proper information. Our project has realized that getting COVID 19 information can be more difficult for people with vision, hearing, and even cognitive disabilities, as popular news sources may not be accessible, especially when information is changing quickly.
People living with disabilities in the areas that we are serving have serious food shortages. These people have siblings who were once working. However, due to the current lockdown in South Africa, they are not working leaving them with no option but to use their disability grant to feed themselves and their siblings. This shortage of food has impacted negatively on their health.