The Ghana Association of Bankers (GAB), as part of its GH¢10million COVID-19 interventions support programme committed toward emergency relief for the fight against the novel Coronavirus pandemic, has donated some food items and PPE to the vulnerable and some healthcare institutions in the country.
The Association, which is made up of all the 23 universal banks operating in Ghana and the ARB Apex Bank, have come together as one unit to help ameliorate the burden and difficulties imposed by advent of the virus.
Giving a breakdown of the distribution, Deputy CEO of GAB Mr. John Awuah said: “The rationale for pooling resources together to set up the fund is meant to drive scale and record maximum impact in the areas of our interventions. Since the fund was set up, we have been busy executing deployment of relief assistance. We gave US$335,000 to Noguchi toward the procurement of test kits; GH¢200,000 to the Community Water and Sanitation organisation to help in their rural outreach aimed at getting the story of regular handwashing to our rural folks and for better access to water. We also gave GH¢200,000 to doctors in residence toward the procurement of PPEs. These are doctors and other health professionals on the frontline in the fight against the virus, so we thought it was good to contribute toward their safety”.
Mr. Awuah revealed that the Association also donated GH¢2million to the private sector fund toward construction of the Infectious Diseases Isolation and Treatment Centre in Ga East in support of constructing a hundred-bed facility within 6 weeks.
He added that GH¢300,000 was again contributed to the private sector fund toward feeding the needy during the lockdown period. He went on to say that GAB has so far donated in excess of 400 hand-wash basins (advanced form of the ‘Veronica buckets’) to the Ghana Health Service to be deployed at all Regional and District Health facilities.
“The vulnerable people in our society become even more vulnerable during periods like these, and therefore we contributed toward the provision of 5,000 meals per day to the vulnerable during the lockdown period. The success of that programme led the Association to decide to do more in support of the vulnerable. To this end, a total of 6,550 ‘family food packs’ are being distributed to deprived/vulnerable households. Each pack contains assorted food items that will be enough to feed a family of four for a few days. This was to help meet the feeding needs of the beneficiaries during this pandemic,” he said.
Mr. Awuah further said that the Association is working in collaboration with faith-based organisations on distribution of the 6,550 family food packs to the vulnerable in society.
He explained that: “We do not have a database on the vulnerable in society, but there are faith-based organisations which have charitable organs in their set-up and can aid in the distribution processes. They have been allocated boxes of food items so they use their infrastructure and databases of people they have already identified as vulnerable to donate to.
“The faith-based organisations we are using for distribution of the food packs are: The Presbyterian Relief, Ghana Muslim Missions, The Church of Pentecost, The Assemblies of God, Zakat & Sadaqa, United Way Ghana, Caritas Ghana, Humanity First, The Ghana Baptist Convention and the Methodist Development & Relief Services.”
He used the opportunity to advise customers of banks to continue using alternative banking channels (digital channels) whenever possible, to lessen the traffic into banking halls and thereby help to reduce spread of the virus.
He assured that banks have either waived or significantly reduced charges on digital banking platforms to make them attractive and less burdensome for customers to shift to. He reiterated that aside from the GH¢10million contributed by banks at the Association level, individual banks have directly – as part of their community support programmes – made donations in cash and in kind toward procurement of PPEs, meeting needs of the vulnerable and some cash donations. Though these programmes are ongoing at the individual bank level, a total of over GH¢8.5million has so far been spent on intervention programmes during the period of COVID-19.