By Caitlin Hutchison for Scottish Herald
The Scottish Government has announced its pledge to give £2 million to help children in some of the world’s poorest nations in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Working with the humanitarian aid organisation Unicef, the Scottish Government cash will help address the impact of the pandemic on children in Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia.
And international development minster Jenny Gilruth said the cash will provide “essential help to those who are in desperate need”.
The announcement comes after the UK Government’s controversial decision to cut the international aid budget, reducing the amount spent from 0.7% of national income to 0.5%.
The decision prompted criticism, including from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who branded it “deplorable”.
The money, which will be split equally between the three countries, will help pay for specific needs in each of these, such as improving water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as healthcare, immunisation and nutrition.
In addition to this, it will also assist Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia in preparing to distributing Covid-19 vaccines, when these are available.
Ms Gilruth said: “We know that the Covid-19 pandemic is one of the greatest challenges of our times.
“The disease has spread quickly to all corners of the world and its capacity to virulently spread has overwhelmed even the most resilient health systems.
“So we are delighted to be working with Unicef on this project to support their work, especially with children, in Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda.”
Head of Unicef Scotland Lucinda Rivers said: “We are delighted that the Scottish government has chosen to award Unicef Scotland £2 million towards our coronavirus response in Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia.
“The world is currently facing its worst crisis for children since the Second World War, and children have never needed our support more.
“The pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges for many, impacting their survival and wellbeing.”
She added: “With this grant, we’ll be able to reach more children in Malawi, Rwanda, and Zambia with vital services, including access to learning materials while schools are closed, protection from gender-based violence and continuing vital routine immunisation to prevent the spread of disease.
“We thank the Scottish Government for their generosity at a time when it is most needed and look forward to continuing our partnership with them through this work.”
Malawi has strong relations with the Scottish Government. President Chakwera was recently a key note speaker at the Malawi Scottish Partnership Annual general meeting which also focused on the impact of coronavirus in Malawi
Original article appeared in Scottish Herald