Is This Photo Of The Free Food Being Distributed In Rwanda During Lockdown?

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This photo (also see above) has been shared multiple times online with claims that it is of the food being distributed in Rwanda to help low-income households during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The photo was also featured in this article with the headline “Coronavirus: Kagame orders free food to all those who live in Rwanda”

Another article reads, “See The Food Items Shared By Rwandan Government To It’s Citizens On Lockdown”

Background

Rwanda, which has so far confirmed 110 cases and 7 recoveries of COVID-19 (check our tracking page for up to date numbers), was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to order a two-week lockdown to curb the spread of the virus on March 21, through the Office of the Prime Minister.

Measures taken included border closures, banning of movement from one city or district to another, closure of shops, markets and bars, and all employees ordered to work from home. Only essential service providers are being allowed to operate.

The Rwanda Development Board also temporarily shut down tourism and research activities in 3 parks, namely Nyungwe, Volcanoes and Gishwati-Mukura National Parks. This was after conservationists warned of the risk of the endangered African mountain gorillas being susceptible to infection from human respiratory pathogens.

On the 1st of April, Rwanda released a statement saying the lockdown had been extended by two weeks, after a virtual cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame.

The lockdown also affected the 26th genocide commemorations held annually on April 7. Only a small delegation led by President Kagame visited the Gisozi memorial site in Kigali, where he lit the flame of remembrance and addressed the nation.

The biggest challenge with the lockdown, however, has been how people’s livelihoods have been affected. In a statement published by the Rwanda Broadcasting Authority President Kagame assured citizens that the country would provide basic amenities.

Verification

It is true that Rwanda began distribution of food and other basic essentials to vulnerable groups on March 28.

However, an image search shows the photo being shared online was actually taken in the Gambia in May 2019 and the pictures posted on Rariya’s Facebook page.

According to comments on that post, the donation was made in Jarumeh Koto Village, through Jaiteh Charitable Foundation. The foundation had also donated toilets to a  community in Gambia. The toilets can be seen in the background of the image that is being shared online.

According to the report that featured the image in question, this was during the holy month of Ramadhan, when a generous man by the name Sheikh Eljadj Ibrahim Dinding Sylla, offered multiple gifts to the Muslim faithful in his region.

The photo was also shared on a Facebook post on May 16, 2019 with the caption, “Sheikh Elhadj Ibrahim Dinding sylla, a generous donor offers food to the faithful Muslims in his area”.

Another variation of the image shows a different angle of the photo where there is a tall pillar that looks like a mosque on the right and a tree on the left.

A closer look at Jarumeh Koto village identifies three mosques in that area as can be clearly seen on Google Earth:

Going by that, this then would be Jarumeh Koto Mosque, as observed below:

A look at another angle of the photo as shared by economist and Nigerian ex-Finance Minister Ngozi Okwonjo-Iweala, further proves that the photo was taken on an open ground near Jarumeh Koto Mosque:

We shared these images with Gambian Journalist Samba Jawo, who from the onset said that from the dressing of the people outside the mosque, the pictures were taken from the rural parts of their country. He identified where the foodstuffs were arranged as being Jarumeh’s lower basic school playground, which is separated from Jarumeh Koto Mosque by a walking path.

Verdict

The image being shared online is old and not from Rwanda, making the claim FALSE.

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Peris Gachahi

Peris Gachahi is a reporter at Africa Uncensored.She is passionate about human interest stories told through in-depth documentaries, data stories and digital storytelling.

Purity Mukami

Purity Mukami is a data and open source intelligence journalist . She has collaborated on projects that generated stories from Sudan's protesters shooting, Kenya's general elections, sexual behaviour patterns and government procurement data-sets. Purity holds a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science and a Master of Science in Applied Statistics.