A Call to Action: Community Engagement Against Covid-19

The WeAreOne Movement is calling all community organisations, leaders, volunteers, associations, women and youth groups to join the fight against the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

The Premise

The COVID-19 crisis in Zimbabwe has reached a critical phase and a new normal is in the horizon. Our preparedness as individuals and empowerment of our immediate communities is our best bet at keeping this virus at bay. Uncertainty and lack of information about post-lockdown conditions, transmission patterns, and personal preventative measures is rampant among large factions of the population. Everyone knows someone who has very little information on personal preventative measures for this virus or has experienced worrying behaviour in public spaces that show that social distancing is not publicly understood and respected. There is therefore an urgent need to explore alternatives to community engagement that ensure that when the lockdown is lifted, its citizens are educated, engaged and empowered to flatten the curve and curb transmission of this virus.

The Status

Targeted door to door community engagement is already happening and gaining momentum. I-am-4-Bulawayo-FightingCovid-19 is facilitating collective action for Bulawayo through fundraising to equip hospitals and test centres and empower healthcare workers. The EatOut Movement is accommodating the homeless community that have been chased out of the Harare CBD due to the lockdown. They are also fundraising for food and basic necessities. In the last 23 days, the EatOut Movement has accommodated 209 people and served over 13,993 meals. On the reusable mask front, community organisations like HarareHelps, DeMOYO, FrontlineZW, MiracleMissions and Chenesaibrand are teaching mask making, collecting supplies for mask making and distributing masks to the community. The Victoria Falls #COVID19 task force are delivering a robust community engagement plan and engaging the local community on non-surgical masks making and day-to-day preventative measures. Kites for Peace are organizing and amplifying the capacity and voices of community led organizations emphasizing that anyone can make a difference.

The Proposition

WeAreOne Movement is amplifying and celebrating community engagement efforts by bringing together community influencers (e.g. community leaders, religious leaders, health workers,) and networks (e.g. women’s groups, community health volunteers, youth associations) to look at synergies, gaps, partnership and cross-learning opportunities to strengthen efforts on the ground. Distribution of basic supplies to vulnerable communities can be accompanied by information sharing activities and reusable masks. Efforts to empower health workers in Bulawayo can be replicated to other parts of the country. These are just a few ways in which communities can come together to intensify action and reach more beneficiaries.

The Strategy

  • Target area and community segmentation – We must treat the community engagement work with full understanding of the community segments that exist in Zimbabwe. To consider that in the urban settlements, we have low, medium and high-density areas and rural settlements have the communal areas and farming areas. In high density neighbourhoods, social practices such as communal drinking and social interactions continue to manifest, and people display a lack of awareness and understanding of preventative measures and in medium to low density areas, awareness is high but sometimes muddled by misinformation, fear and anxiety. Understanding these specificities will inform engagements that will not only teach preventative measures but check on the wellbeing of our citizens as they have been affected immensely by the lockdown measures given the state of our economy.
  • Door-to-door Communication – These need to rollout immediately across Zimbabwe targeting adults and young adults. What is certain about the movement is that we believe that social practice can be changed through efficient communication stemming from within the community. This will be complemented where possible with group engagements (under 20 people with adequate social distancing). This engagement will seek to:
    • Gather understanding of the daily activity of each person;
    • Gather understanding of their level of awareness of COVID-19 and personal preventative measures;
    • Tailor information to respond to their activities;
    • Provide important contact information related to COVID-19;
    • Gather relevant information and feedback on other issues related to COVID-19.
  • Community simulations of the new normal – The information gathered from the community interactions will start to shape Zimbabwe’s new normal. It will inform how we behave in public spaces, how we engage with our families and our colleagues, what actions are going to be socially acceptable and new business best practices.

We are calling on all community organisations and inviting all community champions working or looking to work in local communities and among vulnerable groups to connect with #weareoneCOVID19zw. Collectively, we can prepare our communities for the new normal. This is not a drill and simulations need to start immediately.

Drop us an email at weareonemovementzim@gmail.com or call us on 0778498119 and a member of our team will be in touch.

Source: WeAreOne Movement

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