AFRICA/SUDAN - Covid-19, lockdown extended in Khartoum: the government meets the needs of street sellers

Thursday, 25 June 2020 coronavirus   women   economy  

Khartoum (Agenzia Fides) - The Sudan Security and Defense Council has further extended a lockdown in the state of Khartoum to June 29, in response to the recommendations of its Supreme Committee for Health Emergencies. The decision was made following statements by the Sudanese Ministry of Health, which reported 280 new coronavirus (Covid-19) cases, including 10 deaths bringing the total number of cases in the country to 8,020, and deaths to 487.
Due to this extension, the Ministry of Labour and Social Development has distributed ATM cards to support vulnerable groups and 5,000 cards for medical expenses to support vulnerable families, in particular for every poor working woman affected by the Covid-19 lockdown.
As Fides learns, in an interview with "Radio Dabanga's" Kandaka programme, Awadiya Kuku, head of the Women Food and Beverage Sellers Union, said that "in Khartoum there are about 42,000 women working in this sector and that the Association was originally set up to support the weaker segments of society". She also added that the government has decided to legalize this work. Stalls will be placed at specific points in Khartoum, with all the hygiene rules specifically required.
"This project for all women and men sellers is ready and will be implemented after the lockdown is lifted. All vendors will have well health-equipped stalls at agreed sales points. Sugar, tea, paper cups and other items will be distributed to them in an orderly and organised manner". Kuku thanked Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok for the vehicle he provided to her, and the permission to move through the city during curfew hours, to help her meet the needs of the tea sellers and distribute the cards.
Kuku herself became a roadside tea seller when her family moved to Khartoum in 1979, and has since been involved in promoting economic opportunities for women working in the informal sector. In 1989, she founded the Women's Food and Tea Sellers' Cooperative, and in 2013, she organised the Women's Multi-Purpose Cooperative for Khartoum State. In her role as Chair of those organisations, Mahmoud has organised more than 8,000 women who depend on selling tea and other informal sector work to survive. In 2016, Kuku received the US Secretary of State's International Women of Courage Award at the US Embassy in Khartoum in acknowledgement of her work.
A 2016 study by economic expert Dr Hassan Abdelati found that 88.6 per cent of the tea sellers in Khartoum are either displaced or migrants from rural areas.
In the study, Dr Abdelati asserts that the tea sellers' sector is growing because of inflation, war, difficult economic conditions, illiteracy, and poor education standards among the women. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 25/6/2020)