Women, Children and the elderly suffer Most during Pandemics, a case study in Africa

Dennis Weche
Posted May 25, 2020 from Kenya
A Kenyan Woman Mp Mrs. Elsie Muhanda donating food stuffs to Flood Victims in Kenya. PHOTO: DENNIS WECHE
A Kenyan Woman Mp Mrs. Elsie Muhanda donating food stuffs to Flood Victims in Kenya. PHOTO: DENNIS WECHE

When calamities strikes Nations especially in third World countries where there are no proper arrangements for the vulnerable groups, Women, Children and the aged face the sharpest axe. This is a result of their nature - they're simply weak.

Today as I write hundreds of thousands of families here in Africa are facing hardest moments in their lives. Majority of communities in Africa, women carry huge burdens of household responsibility; taking care of their children, husbands and the entire community whether in blissful or tough moments. They do menial jobs to make sure their families are well fed at the same time meet other family needs. 

Men chauvinism has exposed women to hardships by taking bigger roles because we all believe women are more compassionate than their counterparts. In times of epidemics and pandemics like what the world  is going through, women find themselves wobbling in the jaws of hardships; from securing their families and belongings to ensuring that their families are taken care of in terms of feeding them. 

Majority of men tend to ran away from such responsibilities - only a few have a heart for the family. Today the World is facing the hardest tragedies ever. The novel Corona Virus pandemic, natural calamities like floods in some parts of the world among other life threatening vices.

Floods sweep away homes especially those lying around River banks, low lands and riparian lands. The heavy rains like those experienced in Western part of Kenya posed a threat to contraction of waterborne diseases like Cholera, Diarrhea among other related diseases. Because Women, children and the elderly are mostly found in homes, they stand a higher chance of being vulnerable to the situations. 

Majority of them loose lives by being carried away by floods, injuries, those who survive death contract to diseases like malaria due to use of contaminated water from the floods etc. 

Today, Covid-19 pandemic is posing the greatest threat to the lives of Kenyans. Majority of Africans lead hand to mouth economy, some lack essential information on how to curb spread of various mishaps should their strike them. Such a lifestyle emerges as a big headache to the wellbeing of citizens. The current problems facing Africans supersedes any promising problems. From natural calamities to emerging diseases, persisting poverty to insecure nation among other vices. Some Africans will say they're used to suffering.

What can the Governments do to protect the Vulnerable families?

As I earlier wrote, the three classes of people who suffer most during tragedies are Women, Children and the elderly. These people undergo psychological torture due unending suffering. Since some calamities are predictable for instance drought, floods etc, the governments through  Meteorological Departments ought to be issuing prior Social preparedness to the possible to help them prepare to evacuate and seek for safer settlements before calamities knock on their doors. Our governments and other humanitarian organizations should be swift in containing situations before they worsen - provide shelter, drugs, food stuffs among other necessities to the affected families. This process should be treated as emergency. 

Families should shun away from old stereotypes; the elderly tend to struggle to refuse to leave their homes to safer places because of cultural ties on the ancestral lands. This situation makes it harder for them to survive in the subsequent tragedies. 

Women and children cannot make personal decisions, men who majority stay far away from homes (major towns) tend to confine their families within homesteads hence rendering them not to make independent decision making; taking up of other decisions like moving away families to safer places during calamities like floods. Women and children too have no manpower (financial incapability) to find new homes. 

Some men should be encouraged to support and protect their families. Some men tend to divert various aids from humanitarian support programmes like relief food programme. 

Governments ought to find long lasting solutions in the curbing of some tragedies by finding her citizens safer places to stay. In response to Covid-19 pandemic, the governments should ensure that their from all walks of life have necessary facilities and precautions to curb the spread and contraction of the contagions. 

Some security officers should be warned against mistreating Women among other vulnerable groups in such crisis. Sometimes women undergo further mistreatments during tragedies. They raped and exposed to other humiliations. By so doing the world will be a better place for everyone.

Comments 5

Log in or register to post comments
Anita Shrestha
May 26
May 26

THank you for sharing

Jill Langhus
May 27
May 27

Hi Dennis,

Welcome back! I hope you and your family are safe and well. I'm glad that you're a strong advocate for women and children and that you do a lot to help them, however, women aren't weak, they don't do "menial" jobs, and they aren't financial incapable. All the women I know are really strong, in all ways. All the jobs they do are essential, and I can see where some women could be considered to have financial hardship but I don't see them incapable of earning at all. Thanks for sharing, and I hope that your country is able to recover quickly from all these challenges soon.

Tamarack Verrall
May 27
May 27

Hi Dennis,
This is an important report on how women in particular are doing in your community. "Women, Children and the aged face the sharpest axe". With Jill, though, I suggest that it has been taught over and over that we women are weak, when we are holding our families and communities together with little or no support. I challenge the notion that "Women and children cannot make personal decisions". We make decisions all the time, many that cause us to be threatened or killed, all of which are meant to bring survival and respect for women, and our work, is too often unpaid. The threats if we do "independent decision making" are severe. We need men to commit to stepping aside and supporting the leadership of women so that we have equal access to "manpower" (financial capability), and have the chance to create a society that respects all, equally. And security officers should be more than warned against mistreating women. This is breaking the law. It is good to see you here with us. We need men like you to take our side and stand up to a system that exploits and punishes women in so many ways.

Hello, Dennis,

Welcome back! Thank you for adding your voice in support of women and girls.

Please keep on writing!

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi

Hello Denis,
Thank you so much for your post. I pray and hope that you are safe during this very difficult time of the Corona virus pandemic. Thank you for advocating and supporting women and girls. Keep us posted on your projects. Most importantly please take care of yourself and family.
Stay Safe.