The global pandemic COVID-19 presents a major threat to poor countries, like Mozambique, with very limited health resources. Lifestyle factors and overcrowded markets, public transport systems and homes are also major risk factors. Bearing in mind, limited government resources to tackle the virus in poor and isolated rural communities, such as Supinho and Idugo, the Zalala Foundation decided to take the lead. In close collaboration with the relevant Government departments a programme was developed to train members of the local Girls Group and other local activists to undertake intensive awareness–raising in communities and provide essential protective equipment, including masks, soap and disinfectants.
Training of Activists
In April 2020, 12 of our mainly female community activists took part in a one-day training (observing social distancing requirements) aimed at providing information about transmission and prevention.
Training of Sprayers
In addition, a small team were trained in the use of sprayers to be used to disinfect the interior of homes, vehicles and canoes transporting passengers to and from Idugo island. This training programme was instigated and funded by the Zalala Foundation.
Making of masks
Within a very short time, the Sewing Groups of Supinho and Idugo got to work making masks. In Idugo, a solar panel was provided by the Zalala Foundation to enable the group to work during evening hours to be able to produce the quantity of masks required. In less than a month, 2,500 masks were produced. These were then distributed by the trained volunteers from the 2 communities, as well as leading members of the Quelimane Children’s Parliament, who gave their time to support and guide the newer members from Supimho and Idugo. The masks were distributed free to orphans and other vulnerable members of the community and at a nominal price (around 30 cents) to others in the 2 communities.
Soap and mask distribution
In the same period, 3,400 bars of soap were distributed to 1278 households in the 2 communities. Demonstrations on the correct use of soap were provided by local activists and the members of the Childrens Parliament.
Awareness-raising at the local is carried out door to door by our local activists. The aim is to explain the use of masks and the need for social distancing. Over a 6-week period, just under 3,500 women, men, girls and boys attended a total of 630 talks in Supinho and in Idugo, 6,300 people attended 648 talks. These were carried out using social distancing methods by members of the local Associations and by representatives of the Children ™s Parliament in the 2 communities.
Recognising the power of music and song, we commissioned a local musician to produce a song about Coronavirus prevention with lyrics provided by the Idugo Girls Group (Movimento M).
The song lyrics, sung in both Portuguese and the local language are: Corona is a virus that attacks all human beings. To avoid it, you must stay at least one metre apart, you must wash your hands frequently with soap and water and avoid crowded places. If you follow these guidelines, you will stay safe and save Mozambique and all of us.
Spraying and disinfecting of entry points to communities
Another critical component of the prevention strategy is to disinfect all bicycles, motorbikes, cars and canoes as they enter or leave the communities. To this end, we provided training and equipment to a group of local volunteers. Over this period, canoes entering and leaving Idugo island have been sprayed 1,150 times. In addition, cars have been sprayed 312 times, motorbikes 633 times and bicycles 883 times.