HARARE- As the world fights the COVID-19 pandemic, GOAL Zimbabwe is taking public health and hygiene awareness campaign to the most vulnerable people using specialised mobile trucks.
The campaign has reached more than half a million people in urban and rural areas of Zimbabwe that includes Harare, Marondera, Chipinge, and Mutare.
UNICEF provided technical and financial support towards the campaign, funded by the World Bank under the Zimbabwe Idai Recovery Programme (ZIRP) and Irish Aid.
Goal Zimbabwe partnered with Promobile Africa who provide specially equipped trucks and trained staff for the COVID-19 awareness campaign that is emphasising the preventative messages around handwashing with soap, social distancing and other important health and wellbeing issues related to COVID-19.
The trucks are a particularly effective way of reaching communities safely, particularly during the lockdown, when other community engagement activities are not possible. The trucks move through communities spreading messages using loudspeakers and also engage people (practicing all prevention measures) at food distribution points.
Aidan Cronin, UNICEF Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene spoke highly of the initiative adding that it was critical for marginalised communities to have access to this critical information on handwashing and social distancing to help protect themselves and their families.
“Providing safe water, sanitation and hygienic services is essential to protecting human health during all infectious disease outbreaks, including COVID19. I am delighted that through GOAL, we have managed to provide people with critical information on handwashing and other hygienic requirements that mitigate against this highly infectious disease.”
The number of global confirmed cases of COVID-19 has now passed 2.5 million and as of April 22nd 28 cases are officially reported in Zimbabwe including 4 deaths.
According to GOAL Zimbabwe’s findings during the first month of the campaign there is good uptake of messages and information as well as interest for information about COVID-19 – mostly by households and particularly women.
Gabriella Prandini, Country Director of GOAL Zimbabwe said the initiative has enabled the dissemination of key messages on COVID-19 awareness and preparedness in one of the most effective and efficient ways particularly during the lockdown period.
“We were able to reach a wide range of communities from urban to rural, from beneficiaries of food aid to vendors. Having combined food distributions with this initiative also proved to be a successful way of communicating prevention messages to some of the most vulnerable communities,” she said.
The feedback from the outreach also noted that many people did not fully understand the risk mitigation measures and that COVID-19 is a threat to their lives but thanks to this campaign they are now changing their behaviours to prevent infection.
In other areas such as Harare there were concerns over lack of access to sufficient clean water, followed closely by access to sanitizers or soaps and detergents as well as food.
Information on Gender Based Violence (GBV) was also incorporated into this campaign and it is envisioned that key messages on Protection related issues will also be incorporated on the second phase of the project.
Cases of GBV have been on the rise in Zimbabwe since the lockdown was put in place to mitigate against the disease.- Source- Unicef Zimbabwe