Civil Society Organizations across Lagos State have called on the State Government to extend the COVID-19 testing and advocacy to low income communities within the state.
This is contained in a press statement jointly signed by CSOs working in the informal sector and urban poor communities.
The groups believed that it is imperative to extend the testing to low income communities because they are densely populated adding that there should be clear protocols on reporting and responding to suspected cases outlined.
The groups also noted that the special interventions in primary and secondary health care services be given priority, as well as separating suspected COVID-19 cases from local communities to avoid a spiraling infection in the densely populated areas and for treating them safely.
The groups also noted that the ongoing palliative measures are not achieving their desired effect, in that distribution is limited, which has led to protest and violence in many low-income communities.
The groups thereafter recommended that to achieve inclusive and sustainable Covid19 palliative care for the vulnerable, it is important that, “LASG allows individuals, corporate and faith-based organisations with proven engagement in local communities to lead with the distribution of material support to these communities.
“That LASG should consider a time limited financial support package to duly registered small-scale trade and market cooperatives, which will be disbursed through individual BVN accounts. International Development Assistance can be used to offset the costs of such payment.
“That a mixed strategy of cash transfer and in kind support be considered for the women in need, especially for the unbanked.”
As regards to access to food distribution networks, the groups opined that, “due to the fact that Lagos relies on food distribution networks from other parts of Nigeria and beyond, that the operative food distribution chains be kept open – with transporters and local retailers allowed to move around responsibly – during the lock down period.
“These food distributors and market women are rendering essential services. We especially recommend that the Neighbourhood Corps and local market associations support the enforcement of social distancing protocols for both buyers and sellers in these markets. Situations like these call for price control measures that will ensure price stability.
“That the Mile 12 traders’ association normalises prices and keeps them constant. A subsidy mechanism in which government pays the difference to traders if they have to sell below the cost price can be established for this period.”
Reacting on the recommendation by health practitioners on the need for regular hand washing, the groups recommended “that access to free water and hand washing stations is ensured in all crowded communities and regular clearing of waste is ensured in communities not covered by PSPs and LAWMA’s bridge project.”
Regarding the homeless, it was recommended “that special arrangements should be made to provide temporary accommodation and feeding for the homeless in order to guarantee the requirements for social distancing and isolation for this very vulnerable layer of the population.”
Organizations that signed the press statement are; Federation of Informal Workers of Nigeria (FIWON); Nigerian Slum / Informal Settlement Federation (Federation); Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development, University of Lagos.
Others are; Sankofa Policy Lab; Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE-HOPE Nigeria); Lagos Urban Development Initiative; Rethink Cities Initiative; POLYBRIQ; and Urbanovate Enterprise