Humanitarian aid agency GOAL has reached more than 17 million vulnerable people with vital COVID-19 awareness messaging and supports across its 13 countries of operation since the start of the crisis in March.
The agency said today the vast majority of the 17 million people have been reached through mass media campaigns using radio, social media and mobile advertising while more than 2.1 million people have reached directly.
In Zimbabwe more than 4.5 million have been educated on social distancing, hand washing and the importance of wearing masks through a broadcast campaign supported by Irish Aid. In addition more than 2.5 million people have been reached with COVID-19 messaging though a unique partnership with mobile advertising company, Promobile, who have been going from community to community with large trucks educating people on preventing the spread of COVId-19/ Meanwhile four million people were reached with media messaging in Sierra Leone, three million in Malawi and 2.3 million in Ethiopia.
In addition to these critical and sustained education and awareness campaigns Goal continues to:
- Support 1.4 million people with access to safe water. This includes more than 900,000 displaced people in Idlib in north west Syria.
- Support 293,000 people with soap and other hygiene items. 117,000 of these were in Zimbabwe.
- work with 919 health facilities to increase capacity, primarily in Sierra Leone and Ethiopia and
- Support 900 health facilities serving 4.6 million people to improve infection prevention and control.
Central to GOAL’s COVID-19 response is the Community-Led Action approach which the agency developed during its response to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia in 2014. This approach involves empowering communities to develop plans at local level to isolate and shield those most at risk, and to manage cases of infection.
GOAL Deputy CEO and Head of GOAL’s COVID-19 Task Force, Mary Van Lieshout, said the challenges that GOAL countries face from COVID-19 are many including weak healthcare systems with very limited testing kits, ventilators, ICU beds and medical staff. For example Sierra Leone has only 18 ventilators for a population of 7.7 million.
She said: “But we remain hugely concerned about the secondary impacts of the virus. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has warned that COVID-19 leaves some of the world’s most vulnerable communities facing a “crisis within a crisis”. Restrictions of movement is impacting on people’s ability to earn money, so households don’t have enough money for food and basic living items. Of further concern is the impact of COVID-19 on food insecurity with hunger.”
Preventing the rapid spread of COVID-19 in internally displaced and refugee camps is critical said Ms Van Lieshout. GOAL has been providing COVID-19 support in camps in Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Ethiopia.
“We are particularly concerned about the potential impact of the spread of the virus in Idlib in war-torn north west Syria where GOAL is supporting over 1.1 million internally displaced people in a very small area. We must ensure that all COVID-19 measures are in place to ensure those most at risk of violence are protected in this difficult time. To date the virus has not become widespread in this region due to quick action by our partners on the ground.”
For more information on GOAL’s work go to goalglobal.org