The National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) COVID-19 Technical Advisory Team has lamented the means in which the government is distributing food to the less privileged in some parts of the country amidst the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Following the Coronavirus outbreak in Ghana, the government has banned public gatherings and imposed a partial lockdown on the Greater Accra and Greater Kumasi Metropolitan areas in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.
The government then decided to support the vulnerable in these areas by distributing food to them with the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Cynthia Morrison even announcing free food hotlines for to ensure equitable distribution of food to these vulnerable groups.
But on the back of this, there have been several complaints from the public after videos showing huge crowds of people rushing for food began circulating on social media.
The NDC COVID-19 Team in a statement said, “The scenes reported at food distribution points in Accra and Kumasi over the course of the lockdown have been alarming, and threaten to defeat the underlying point of the social distancing protocols that have occasioned their necessity. The congested cues for cooked food, and its distribution in limited and overcrowded spaces, makes them a potential hub for COVID-19 transmission.”
They are therefore asking for the “immediate cessation of the distribution of cooked foods” to these people, saying that the government should rather resort to “unprepared and nonperishable items”.
Giving reasons for this, the Team said, “It reduces the number of times persons must congregate to collect food, and reduces the number of members of a household that must be involved in the collection itself. This, in turn, reduces overall contacts during the lockdown period and opportunities for transmission.”
They said it also “allows households greater agency to manage their consumption and reduces wastage as a consequence of the inability to properly store excess cooked food. This has been a regular complaint by the target households, which we do not believe should be dismissed as “ingratitude”. Cooked food also presents a relatively higher risk of food poisoning or contamination if the food distribution chain is not properly managed and overseen.”
The NDC COVID-19 team also proposed that the government must focus on giving children in these areas foods “targeted with nutrition supplements in order to stave off the risks of malnutrition and stunting”.
Distribution done on political grounds
Already, some people have complained about the lack of transparency in the distribution of the food.
One of such people is the Member of Parliament for the Klottey Korley Constituency, Dr. Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings.
There has been an ongoing banter on the veracity of an allegation made by Dr. Zanetor who claimed that some persons in charge of the distribution of food including the Minister responsible for Gender and Social Protection, Cynthia Mamle Morrison have been sharing food to only persons aligned to the governing New Patriotic Party.
She then called on President Akufo-Addo to institute a credible investigation into the alleged partisan distribution of food in some areas observing the lockdown including the Klottey-Korle constituency.
Dr. Zanetors allegations have also been backed by the Member of Parliament for the Odododiodoo constituency, Edwin Nii Lante Vanderpuye.
Later on Saturday’s edition of The Big Issue, he said the only way to avoid the partisanship is by allowing the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies MMDAs to do the distribution.
But in a press release, the Gender Minister, Mrs. Morrison has debunked these claims and reiterated the ministry’s impartial distribution of food to the kayayei and other people in need of it.