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Aug 7, 2020

US Embassy Gives Half-a-Mil for COVID-19 Prevention and Awareness

The U.S. Embassy handed over half-a-million Belize dollars for the implementation of a COVID-19 awareness and prevention plan.  UNICEF Belize is the local implementing partner and the work will target vulnerable communities, primarily children and youths.  The monies were handed over at a ceremony in Belmopan on Thursday.  Here’s the story.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

On Thursday the United States Embassy in Belize handed over three hundred thousand US dollars to UNICEF Belize. The funds will be used for a COVID-10 prevention project in vulnerable communities. Because this disease places additional pressures on the already disadvantaged youth and children, this group faces increased risks as their support is cut off or reduced.


Keith Gilges

Keith Gilges, Chargé d’Affaires, U.S. Embassy

“When asked who are the most vulnerable; who are the most in need and you can’t help but think, it’s children. Prior to the advent of coronavirus, about one in two children in Belize was living in poverty compared to more affluent peers, these kid may have less access to basic services and services might have been of lesser quality. We use fancy terms like food security but what we really mean is that sometimes kids go hungry or they have less access to hygiene and proper care services. COVID-19 has only made these disparities worse for the most vulnerable children; the impacts are compounded.”


A recent survey shows that during the last four months of COVID-19, these vulnerable youth and children were deeply impacted by the economic rift caused by this disease.


Michel Guinand

Michel Guinand, Officer in Charge, UNICEF

“Preliminary data from the mix plus survey indicate that as a consequence of the pandemic nearly all of the surveyed households have suffered job loss or loss of livelihoods and sixty percent have had a reduction in income.”


Since the closure of schools over four months ago, one hundred and seven students have been out of school and for thousands of those underprivileged students; it means they don’t have a meal to eat for most days of the week.


Keith Gilges

“Thousands who normally rely on school meals for daily nutrition have had to look for other sources or go without. In one recent survey, a significant number of households have reported to having skip meals or go without. So, it is easy to forget that hunger is a real and significance consequence of this.”


And the lack of basic hygiene products isn’t limited to homes. Hand washing stations are needed in schools across the country.


Michel Guinand

“Hand-washing with soap and water is important to stop the spread in Belize but previously to the outbreak, one in three schools didn’t have or had limited hygiene services.”


So to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 among these vulnerable groups, US Embassy is supporting the UNICEF’s plan to distribute hygiene kits and implement a COVID-19 awareness plan across multiple vulnerable communities – thousands, primarily children and youths, are set to benefit through this six hundred thousand dollars funded project.


Keith Gilges

“We will train a cadre of young people in nine urban areas to use traditional and social media to spread accurate information about the dangers of COVID-19 and ways to prevent its spread. Our project will support data analysis to track the spread of COVID-19 in Belize.”


Michel Guinand

“We will reach at least twenty-five thousand parents, teachers and children with health and hygiene education messages to help keep them safe from the virus. This includes the promotion of breastfeeding and adequate infant young child feeding practices.  We will deliver one thousand two hundred critical hygiene packages to reach fifty thousand students and support two thousand four hundred classrooms to promote hand washing with soap and keep classrooms clean and sanitized in the support of reopening of schools.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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