Since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a worldwide coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has continued to do everything within its capacity to assist the national-led COVID-19 response.
The UNMISS Communications & Public Information office in Western Equatoria, in partnership with local arm of community-based organization, I Can South Sudan, conducted a seven-day awareness-raising campaign among communities in Tambura, Western Equatoria, using tricycles and motorbikes mounted with loudspeakers. Broadcasting WHO-approved preventative measures to mitigate the spread of the virus, tricycles and bikes traversed through residential and business hubs in Tambura as well as rural locations to ensure that important public health messages related to coronavirus travelled far and wide. Flashcards with safety measures written in local languages were also distributed as a handy, portable measure for communities to carry around and spread the word among their families, friends and loved ones.
“We are taking these warnings as well as the preventative measures very seriously. We are now fully conversant with how dangerous COVID-19 is and we will make sure that our family members, especially young children stay safe and follow the WHO guidelines,” said John Murakabia, a resident of Tambura. “It is our duty to make sure we proactively trickle down these important health rules and sensitize fellow citizens and community members who might still be unaware of the risks posed by this virus,” added Mr Murakabia.
For their part, local authorities in Tambura greatly appreciated the impact of broadcasting and distributing key health and safety measures in languages such as Zande and Balanda. “Since currently there is no vaccine for COVID-19, ensuring that everyone in the country is familiar with and practicing mitigating measures such as physical distancing or wearing a mask is the key to ensure our citizens are safe. As such, we are very appreciative of UNMISS and I Can South Sudan for disseminating these important health and safety guidelines in the languages spoken by people in Tambura,” said Natale Dungura, local official, Tambura county.
I Can South Sudan, for their part, believes that the mobile awareness drive is of immense value at this critical time. “Prevention is the only cure when it comes to COVID-19 right now. While our collaborative sensitization campaign was ongoing, we found that many people residing in Tambura were either completely oblivious to the threat posed by the virus or were aware, but not adopting preventative methods. However, in my opinion, our mobile awareness raising drive had the desired impact, and we will witness greater adherence to safety measures among communities here,” averred James Mupaya Albino, Project Coordinator, I Can South Sudan.
“We have no choice but to adapt to the ‘new normal’ for the time being. The virus is real, anyone can contract it as well as transmit it. Therefore, so I urge everyone to be mindful, wear a mask, wash their hands frequently and maintain a safe physical distance from others,” concluded Mr. Albino.
Similar mobile awareness campaigns were also conducted in Mundri West, Maridi and Yambio. UNMISS hopes to extend the programme to other major towns in Western Equatoria in upcoming weeks.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).