ThroughHerEyes #1 – Coronavirus in Ghana: documenting the human impact of lockdown

Photo @Fibi Afloe

#ThroughHerEyes is a monthly column dedicated to sharing the stories and perspectives of under-represented women. Each month, photographers from the Lensational network, who come from low-income communities across Asia and Africa, share their work and perspective on a topic. Lensational is a youth-led non-profit training the new generation of female photographers & videographers from the margins. Azickia is proud to partner with their movement and contribute by sharing the stories of the women they support.

A photo essay by photographer Fibi Afloe

On March 23rd, 2020, a partial lockdown in the cities of Accra and Kumasi, Ghana, brought a halt to economic activity, making it difficult for a large section of the population to cope as the days passed.

Needing to fight for daily survival and to stay safe from contracting the virus, families living in slums like Nima, in Accra, had to perform the balancing act of limiting their movements, and maintaining social distance in overcrowded households.

Fibi Afloe, a young photographer from Nima, chronicled the daily lives of the people in her community, as restrictions were enforced to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ghana.

“I sometimes feel it is dangerous to be out there shooting. And it breaks my heart to see women and children struggling to survive by the day as economic activities were suspended, and mothers carrying babies on their backs, waiting in long queues for hours for food donations and other essentials”, says Fibi.

“We are facing a lot of uncertainties during this time, and most people, including myself, feel powerless. Picking up my camera to document our struggle at this time gives me strength; it is an opportunity for me to tell the story of the people, as they try to cope with the pandemic.”

Considering the risk to expose herself to the virus, Fibi has been trying to follow health guidelines and governmental directives whenever she steps out to document stories.

“I wear a face mask whenever I leave my house and I use my hand sanitizer as frequently as possible. Instead of a handkerchief I use a tissue, instead of a commercial bus I take a taxi. Upon arrival at my house, I immediately wash my hands, take a shower, and clean all of my gear.”

Deserted city

3 April 2020. An empty street in one of Accra’s otherwise busiest commercial districts, as Ghana enforces a partial lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Photo: Fibi Afloe
17 April 2020. A deserted market in Accra, as Ghana enforces a partial lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Photo: Fibi Afloe
17 April 2020. A deserted market in Accra, as Ghana enforces a partial lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Photo: Fibi Afloe
18 April 2020. Many shops, restaurants, and service providers in Accra tried to introduce alternative solutions to stay in business. Accra, Ghana. Photo: Fibi Afloe

Prevention

3 april 2020, Accra, Ghana. Photo : Fibi Afloe

After the lockdown was first announced by President Nana Akufo-Addo on March 23rd, 2020, markets in Accra were closed for disinfection intervention.

The workers of Zoomlion, a major waste management company, took to the empty streets of Accra to collect garbage.

3 April 2020, Accra, Ghana. Photo: Fibi Afloe
3 April 2020, Accra, Ghana. Photo: Fibi Afloe
3 April 2020, Accra, Ghana. Photo: Fibi Afloe
Some of the mosques in Nima district were disinfected too. 23 March 2020, Nima, Accra, Ghana. Photo: Fibi Afloe

Support for the Kayayei

3 april 2020, Tema Station, Accra, Ghana. Photo : Fibi Afloe

The Kayayei, young women and girls who work as head porters, have been amongst the hardest hit groups, feeling most severely the impact of measures against COVID-19.

The Kayayei usually migrate from Northern Ghana to the capital in the hope to find work and support their families back home. They typically live close to the markets, often in overcrowded shelters.

The imposed lockdown restrictions made life for the Kayayei rather unbearable. Since the lockdown, they have been relying on food donations.

3 april 2020, Tema Station, Accra, Ghana. Photo : Fibi Afloe

Private organizations and NGOs work to support the survival of the Kayayei. Despite all efforts, some of the head porters were not able to receive food packages due to a shortage of supplies in relation to a large number of women in need.

Challenges for market women

10 april 2020, CMB Market, Accra, Ghana. Photo : Fibi Afloe

In April, the market around the Cocoa Marketing Board (CMB) in Accra had to be closed due to non-adherence to social distancing protocols introduced.

10 April 2020, CMB Market, Accra, Ghana. Photo: Fibi Afloe
10 April 2020, CMB Market, Accra, Ghana. Photo: Fibi Afloe

Market women who did not observe social distancing were told by the Government they were not allowed to sell at the market until further notice.

Nonetheless, some of the women ignored the order, and came to the market to sell their products. Many are depending on their daily income to feed their families. Police presence was increased to enforce regulations.

The Korle Krottey Municipal Assembly’s (K.K.M.A.) Rapid Response unit at the market, checking if sellers comply with regulations. 10 April 2020, CMB Market, Accra, Ghana. Photo: Fibi Afloe
People observing the happenings at CMB market. 10 April 2020, Accra, Ghana. Photo: Fibi Afloe

Protection

On April, 19th, 2020, the President lifted the partial lockdown. In the meantime, some other measures have also been relaxed, including the reopening of churches and partly educational institutions, as long as they adhere to strict COVID-19 prevention protocols. As COVID-19 cases are still rising in Ghana, it is crucial that people do their best to protect themselves and others.

Hand washing stations like this one have been set-up throughout Accra in front of shops, for customers to use before entering. 25 March 2020. Photo: Fibi Afloe
Since the partial lockdown was lifted on April, 19th, 2020, wearing of face masks was made mandatory for all. Photo: Fibi Afloe

 


Through these Stories, Azickia aims to highlight social impact initiatives, in France and around the world, while not necessarily adhering to all the opinions and actions implemented by them. It is and will remain in Azickia’s DNA to fight against all forms of discrimination and to promote equality for all.Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 France License.