Zambian charities look to local resource mobilization to survive
As the COVID-19 continues to take a toll on the global economy, many charities are seeing a sharp drop in both human and financial resources.
Reports by experts suggest that without continued financial support over the coming months, many charities will not be able to provide the much-needed support to the world's poor and marginalized populations.
Visits to a number of non-profit organizations in Zambia revealed that most volunteers and charity staff are staying at home and avoiding high-risk spaces at the advice of the government.
Fundraising activities, which are key income-generating initiatives for many charities, have been put on hold and donations to these entities have dropped to crisis levels.
Social distancing measures introduced by governments aimed at preventing the further spread of COVID-19 is impacting the delivery of, and demand for, charitable goods and services.
"We were forced to close our shops and other businesses following a sharp drop in sales even as people's incomes dropped. People began shunning public spaces for fear of contracting the virus and this also affected our ventures," said Florence Munguba, assistance in-charge of Cheshire Home for Aged situated in Zambia's capital Lusaka.
Munguba revealed that the organization has also seen a huge reduction in the number of donations as most individuals and entities that had been instrumental in providing support are no longer able to do so.
"At the moment we are only providing very necessities such as food and shelter. We are currently not in a position to provide things like educational support to some of the vulnerable children under our care because of limited resources," she lamented.
Munguba asserted that going forward, charities should innovate and adopt practical ways of mobilizing resources otherwise they risk being extinct.
According to her, charities would do well to embark on creative ways of raising funds such as online resource mobilizing initiatives and invest in ventures that require minimal or no physical interactions.
And Mary Chiwala, Executive director for Nsungeni Orphanage which operates in Kapiri Mposhi district, central Zambia, said the demand for services provided by a number of charities, such as children's homes and homes for the aged has risen sharply during this period because many people have no sustainable sources of livelihood.
Chiwala said many charities are unable to provide welfare services to the poor and marginalized populations which entails that many of them are likely to be pushed into extreme deprivation.
"Sadly, we also have had to turn away children in need of shelter and food because of lack of capacity to help them. Providing for children in our care has been a challenge," Chiwala said.
Chiwala however, said charities operating in rural areas should consider investing in agriculture production stating that Zambia has plenty of arable land and abundant natural resources from which communities including vulnerable populations can benefit from.
In an effort to contribute to charities, a group of young people in Lusaka has been organizing online fundraising programs to help support charities that are providing essential services particularly to the poor and most vulnerable populations in society.
The group, which is led by 23-year-old youth Clement Amani, has been mobilizing resources to help key charitable entities operating in Lusaka's poorer communities.
"We believe it is the responsibility of every global citizen to help the needy in society by offering their time, talent or other resources. It does not necessarily have to be money or material resources," Amani said.
He further explained that his group is not a registered entity but that plans are underway to formalize the operations of the group so as to ensure more transparency and accountability. (Xinhua)