In Rwanda, restricted movement during the COVID-19-related lockdown has affected population groups differently, particularly sex workers, members of the LGBTI community, and households that survive on a daily income.
The most common challenge faced by key populations during lockdown is lack of food, particularly among people living with HIV and sex workers, which is most likely to exacerbate vulnerability to new HIV infections as the need to survive becomes heightened.
As a result, a coalition of four civil society organizations from within the Rwanda NGO Forum on HIV and Health Promotion, in collaboration with the District of Gasabo, in Kigali, Rwanda, has launched a three-month project called Turikumwe (which means “we are together” in Kinyarwanda).
With catalytic funds from UNAIDS and financial support from the European Union, the project will provide food assistance and sanitary equipment to people most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in selected districts in Rwanda. The food and goods will be distributed by the coalition, through their local associations, to communities of LGBTI people, sex workers and young mothers affected by the COVID-19 lockdown. The project will reach 2 000 vulnerable people.
“Supporting the efforts of civil society, in collaboration with the Government of Rwanda, to reach communities of LGBTI people, sex workers and young mothers, ensuring that no one is left behind, is a key milestone for UNAIDS,” said Andrew Gasozi Ntwali, Community Support Advisor at UNAIDS Country Office in Rwanda.