Cooperative Responses to COVID-19 - Case studies from Africa

22 Feb 2021

Across Africa, cooperatives have been actively mitigating risk and responding effectively to COVID-19. In Kenya, where over 14 million Kenyans are members of savings and credit cooperatives, the movement played a vital role in supplying PPE and providing affordable loans.

The Kenya Union of Savings and Credit Cooperatives (KUSCCO) distributed masks and personal protective equipment to hospitals across the country.

Kenyan cooperators

When schools reopened in January 2021, KUSCCO worked with the Global Women’s Leadership Network (GWLN) and the network’s sister society in Kenya to distribute masks to Family Hope Community Center. The initiative was extended to other parts of the country such as Western Kenya. KUSCCO also worked with Emuhaya Constituency Administrators to distribute masks to schools, as part of efforts to help schools implement health and safety protocols.

To cushion their members even further, KUSCCO also donated personal protective equipment (PPE) to their members in the health sector.

The cooperative savings and credit movement helped local businesses stay afloat during the pandemic, offering affordable loans to those needing financial support to keep trading.  

In Botswana, Orapa Saving and Credit Cooperative celebrated the 72nd International Credit Union Day by donating US$4,355 to the local council for its work against gender-based violence, which saw an upsurge in Boteti sub-district during the lockdown and its aftermath.

Botswanan cooperators

Meanwhile in Uganda, cooperative health insurance helped members deal with unexpected healthcare costs. HealthPartners, which has been active in Uganda since 1997, trains care providers and helps cooperatives learn how to develop partnerships to offer and join affordable health insurance. While COVID-19 made health insurance more important than ever, training new care providers and helping cooperatives connect with them to protect their members and increase resilience became even more challenging.

HealthPartners piloted telephone conferencing for training purposes, scaled up communication through text messages, and provided training for staff and stakeholders on how to prepare for and lead Zoom meetings. It also joined the Overseas Cooperative Development Organization to learn how to get the most out of WhatsApp communication and more. Every day, HealthPartners continues to learn new strategies to engage and support partners.

For more information on how cooperatives are responding to COVID-19 check out ICA Africa's website.

Photo: Ugandan cooperatives are playing a key role in responding to the COVID-19 crisis