Research Exposes Huge Pandemic Information Gap Among the San

A research has revealed that the Covid-19 health communication inequality gap is wider for indigenous minorities such as the San Community in Tsholotsho.

Speaking to Community Podium, Tsoro-o-tso San Development Trust Director Davy Ndlovu said the San Community lives on the periphery of society and that access to information is still a huge challenge. “We did a research on access to information for the San Community and found out that many rely on hearsay,” said Ndlovu.

A copy of the research document titled ‘Access to COVID-19 information amongst the San Community in Zimbabwe seen by Community Podium revealed that the San community lags behind in terms of information on Covid 19 and is characterised by low technological investment, marauding poverty and limited access to communication gadgets including smartphones, TV and radio sets.

The few San people with radios and smartphones to access accurate pandemic communications from broadcasting media are affected by power, network and transmission challenges. Even with power and transmission, the San also struggle to understand the English, Shona and Ndebele languages that are widely used for broadcasting in Zimbabwe.

Without access to accurate pandemic information sources, many local San people rely on information from local leaders and locally based organisations, who at least deliver pandemic communications in local Tjwao language.

All the same, local people’s over-reliance on non-health experts for pandemic communications might result in them getting distorted health communications, something that may put the indigenous minorities at risk of contracting the virus.

Thus, the exclusion and starving of the San community from accurate and reliable pandemic communications means limited knowledge and proactive ability to take precautionary measures in the face of pandemics.

The research which was financially supported by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), derived its demographic data from 50 research participants.

Many of the respondents are Tjwao and Ndebele speakers. The majority of respondents (52%) are within the age range of 26-45 years. Other categories included 46 years and above (28%) and those aged 18-25 years (20%).

The bulk of the respondents (50%) have never been to school and are illiterate. 20% of the respondents attended primary school, while 10% acquired secondary education.

While the frequency of those who own cell phones was high, only 4 out of the 38 cell phones were smartphones. The number for those who own a radio was 4, while none of the participants owned a TV.

The absence of these gadgets explains why many of the San community participants (32) alluded to having relied on information from state and non-state actors for pandemic communications.

The frequencies for other sources of information are as follows: hearsays & teachings by local leaders (21); smartphones and social media (4), print media (2) and broadcasting (3).

Ndlovu further intimated that as a result of the findings they established a covid-19 information resource centre and 19 ward monitors responsible for sharing information with the San Community.

Source: Community Podium

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