Panos, Canada partner to promote citizen participation in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in Zambia

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Lusaka, 22 October, 2020. Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) with support from the Government of Canada through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) is implementing a project aimed at enhancing citizens’ involvement in the prevention of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Zambia.

The project which is dubbed “promoting citizen participation in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in Zambia through awareness creation using radio and social media campaigns” is being implemented in Lundazi, Mkushi, and Sinazongwe districts in Eastern, Central and Southern Provinces of Zambia, respectively.

The project is working with community radio stations to sensitise citizens about the COVID-19 pandemic, and their role in implementing social and hygiene guidelines to prevent the spread of the pandemic. This content will be generated in collaboration with stakeholders including the Ministry of Health and other government agencies, civil society organizations, traditional leaders and other key stakeholders in the fight against COVID-19.

PSAf will also mobilise and work with experts in the project districts who will appear on radio programmes to provide pertinent information and explanations about COVID-19. The radio programmes will be interactive to enable citizens to engage with health experts to seek clarifications and contribute to the discussions through phone calls and text messages.

The project is working with community radio stations in the project sites to mobilize community groups that will regularly listen and contribute to radio discussions. Ordinarily these groups would gather and listen to radio and facilitate post-radio listening discussions, but because of risks posed by COVID-19, the members will listen to radio in their own homes. They will be provided with radio sets for them to effectively participate in radio programming and sensitisation efforts.  The project will also run short Public Service Announcements (PSAs) or radio spots carrying key messages on COVID-19.

PSAf will further provide radio sets to 100 members of the community in each or the three districts. Key messages related to the project will also be printed out as posters and will be posted on online platforms

While government, cooperating partners and other stakeholders are investing in a lot of resources to prevent further spread of the pandemic, PSAf is of the view that the success of these efforts lie in the level of awareness and actions by citizens. There is, therefore, urgent need to intensify citizens’ awareness on COVID-19, its impact, and the actions citizens need to take to prevent the spread of the pandemic in those areas.

We are confident that through this and other efforts, we will contribute to limiting the spread of COVID-19 in the districts. It is our hope that these efforts will contribute to the attainment of few or no COVID-19 infection cases in the districts.

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