Educating communities at grassroots level

Assistance for Red Cross Covid fight

17 August 2020 | Society

The Coca-Cola Foundation donated close to N$1 million to the Namibia Red Cross Association in the fight against Covid in recent months.
The money was used to roll out a Covid-19 response project particularly in the Khomas region where the Red Cross deployed at least 100 volunteers to do health education, community engagement and distribute PPE to some of the most vulnerable groups of society.
Speaking about the impact of the project to the broader Namibian society, Red Cross Namibia Khomas regional coordinator Elizabeth Shakujungua said that they sought to assist vulnerable communities in 10 constituencies of Windhoek by helping curb Covid-19 at a household level.
“We also pushed to reduce the risk of transmission and to contain the outbreak. Apart from this, our project has been instrumental in supporting public confidence in the system and outbreak response measures coupled with promoting effective community engagement, risk communication, behavioural change and hygiene promotion approaches that motivate action and promote participation while also reducing stigma and possible violence,” said Shakujungua.
She added that owing to the engagement that has been undertaken the by Red Cross, more people in the target communities have come to learn and understand the virus and learned how to prevent them from contracting it.
“Communities are taking precautions and they are taking the virus seriously. They are also cognisant of the virus, how it affects them mentally and emotionally, and that it affects Namibia’s economy. Community engagement so far has assisted the volunteers engaging the public with the support of other partners such as NGOs and the Ministry of Health.”
Owing to the Coca-Cola Foundation’s donation, the Red Cross also managed to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) namely masks, gloves, hand sanitisers, disinfectants, tippy tap containers and jerry cans for water. They have also made available and distributed health packs containing a face cloth, a bar of soap, two sets of gloves, masks and a 300ml sanitiser to community members. Visibility material for volunteers as well as toolkits translated into the different vernaculars to enable volunteers to engage community members in their native tongue, were used as part of the engagement strategy.
As with all projects, the Red Cross also endured some challenges.
Speaking of these, Shakujungua said: “At first, the communities found it hard to adhere to the new restricted regulations in terms of social distancing, as well as getting volunteers on the ground to curb the virus quickly by doing community engagement when national lockdowns were being enforced was also a key challenge that we managed to overcome.
“I would like to acknowledge that Coca-Cola’s donation made a great difference in terms of community engagement and support on the ground to enable communities to look after themselves. It also made a huge difference capacitating and empowering volunteers to work effectively and carry out positive health education,” Shakujungua concluded.

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