The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in partnership with the Purim African Youth Development Platform (PAYDP) on Thursday donated items to head porters (Kayayei) in Accra to support them during the partial lockdown.
The donation was in line with the "Relief Boxes Challenge," which is an initiative from the Office of the First Lady to galvanize corporate institutions, individuals and other social organisations to support the less-privileged during the stay home lockdown.
The items included 100 Veronica buckets, bar soap, 200 gallons of liquid soap, 100 gallons of Bleach (Parazone), 1,000 bottles of hand sanitizers, 1,000 pieces of nose masks and 500 pieces of sanitary pads.
Dr Robert K. Mensah, Reproductive Health Specialist for UNFPA, said the donation forms part of ensuring the welfare of the head porters.
He said the Kayayei constituted one of the key marginalized groups that needed attention in the measures being taken to control the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ghana.
Dr Mensah said the more than 3000 female head porters, located mostly in market centres in the southern part of Ghana (and few markets in the northern zone) were exposed to very unhygienic and unsanitary conditions where they lived.
He said their meagre incomes made it impossible for them to acquire essential items to prevent contracting the infectious COVID-19.
"This situation is worsened by the recent partial well-deserved lockdown imposed by government in certain parts of the country," he added.
Dr Mensah said the UNFPA deemed it appropriate to provide some essential items to protect the "Kayayei" from infections, maintain their dignity and reduce their dependence.
The support also aimed at reducing their vulnerability to Sexual and Gender Based Violence, harmful practices and other gender inequalities, which tended to increase during periods of crises.
He said the items donated were identified following a rapid needs assessment conducted in partnership with PAYDP through consultations with the "Kayayei" Gatekeepers.
He said the items would be distributed at UNFPA/PAYDP intervention areas in the Greater Accra, Ashanti and Bono East Regions.
Dr Mensah said the veronica buckets and the soaps would be positioned at vantage points in the markets where they could access and use even after the lockdown period.
Receiving the items, Ms Abdulai Rukaya, Gatekeeper at the Agbogbloshie Market, expressed appreciation for the kind gesture and promised that they would use the items to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among their members.
She said they would also continue to educate their colleagues on the safety precautions outlined by health experts like the regular washing of hands with soap under running water, use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and avoiding handshakes.
Ms Rukaya also called on cooperate institutions and individuals to go to their aid.
Markets to receive the items in Accra are Madina, Tema Station, Darkuman (Circle Station), Agbogbloshie, CMB, Malata, Haatso, Zongo and Osu.
The donation will be replicated in Kumasi, precisely the Aboabo Market, Dagomba Line, Bombay and Kumasi Metro.
In Techiman, head porters at Gyawukrom, Oforikrom, Akisimasu and Konimase will receive similar donations.