The Covid-19 pandemic has taken its toll on the world, causing almost half-a-million deaths, illnesses, and economic downturns. The World Bank argues that the deadly virus could push up to 60 million people into extreme poverty, wiping out the progress made in this area in the past three years.
In a recent report, the financial institution also said they believe that about a million people will drop back into extreme poverty in South Africa alone. In this Sub-Saharan country, where about a third of its 67.4 million inhabitants do not have access to essential sanitation services, the Covid-19 disease could have a particularly devastating effect.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently warned that because more than a third of Africa's population lacks access to adequate water supplies and nearly 60% of the urban population lives in overcrowded slums where the virus could thrive, the continent could be the next epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.
Coronavirus in South Africa
With 118,375 cases and 2,292 deaths, South Africa accounts for a third of the coronavirus victims in the entire African continent, where there are 347,836 total confirmed cases and 9,070 confirmed deaths.
"The Covid-19 pandemic is threatening the life-saving programs that are essential to our (South African) community's survival," said Ubuntu Pathways in a recent statement.
"We serve a disproportionately vulnerable community––pregnant mothers living with HIV; immuno-compromised children growing up in unsafe homes; elderly heads of households; and at-risk, unemployed youth."
The globally-renowned non-governmental organization (NGO) revealed that local government clinics currently face a very challenging crisis, including widespread closures due the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).
The crisis in Eastern Cape
In Eastern Cape, the South African province where Ubuntu Pathways has its headquarters, there is a shortage of nurses, doctors, and hospital beds.
"A shortage of nurses and doctors, coupled with the health sector's failure to have a coordinated response in the Eastern Cape, has ensured a tsunami wave is on its way," the dean of the Department of Health Sciences at the Nelson Mandela University, Professor Lungile Pepeta, told News24.
"The number of intensive care unit beds is very low," MR. Pepeta added. "I think the estimate was around 70 for the province, but here in the Bay, we have 34 ICU beds. That includes private and public spaces. That is a concern because we already have high levels of cases."
On the frontlines of the crisis
Ubuntu placed itself on the pandemic's frontlines on March 16 by transforming their community center, the Ubuntu Campus in Port Elizabeth, into a Covid-19 Response Unit to face the challenges the crisis represents.
And in a mid-June report of its pandemic support activities, the globally-renowned non-governmental organization (NGO) revealed it is providing local medical facilities with critical PPE as well as clinical capacity support so that up to 10,000 patients per day can receive essential treatment.
Ubuntu Pathways UK Director Beth Honig said that crypto mining rewards have helped fund their Covid-19 response.
"We began crypto mining with Electroneum in July 2019," she recalled. "Funds from the ETN block rewards we receive from Electroneum are going directly to these essential services. We are grateful to have Electroneum as part of our global supporters' community, helping make our work possible."
Beth Honig told the UK crypto startup that they were initially supporting hundreds of people with food supplies and on 25 June she reported that Ubuntu has dramatically increased the reach of this essential initiative.
"In the past week, we have increased the reach of our food security programs. We are now providing food supplies to approximately 30,000 people in our community," she went on to say. "Food packages are delivered to 4,000 households and community institutions once a month."
Food and much more
She explained the "food parcels contain non-perishable food items such as rice, maize meal, cooking oil, beans, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables. Alongside this, we're providing antibacterial soap, cleaning products, and face masks too to protect our community best."
Ubuntu is also using the crypto block rewards to provide psychological support to approximately 2,000 community members. The NGO noted that, unfortunately, there had been a significant spike in domestic violence across the country.
That's a problem affecting the world over. A WHO report showed that calls to domestic violence hotlines spiked by 60% in Europe due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Supporting online education
As part of their crisis response program, Ubuntu has also developed digital educational forums for caregivers and teachers to best support the 225 children who normally attend their Early Childhood Development Programme and Primary School.
Since its inception in 1999, Ubuntu has provided more than 2,000 children and their families with cradle-to-career support as a way out of poverty each year. Their unique support system has gained the NGO the recognition of the World Economic Forum, Aspen Institute, former President Bill Clinton and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
'For many months to come'
"The Covid-19 infection rates and cases in South Africa are multiplying rapidly, while unemployment continues to soar as the economic effects of lockdown become more long-term, so we predict our community will require these services for many months to come," Ms. Honig warned.
Ubuntu Pathways is one of the several NGOs experiencing the benefits of getting involved in crypto as a novel way to fundraise. Since July 2019, when Electroneum introduced their new Moderated Blockchain, powered by their unique Proof of Responsibility protocol, various NGOs began validating the award-winning crypto startup's blockchain network for ETN block rewards, which have become a significant source to further their cause.