Q & A session:A focus on the Mobile Outreach program

Monday 1 June 2020





 Sibongile Damasane holds a megaphone used to spread Child Rights & Covid-19 awareness messages

To know more about the Mobile Outreach Program  conducted by the Education team, read the Question and Answer Session held with the Norad Transition Manager, Sibongile Damasane below:

Q. We understand that you have been conducting mobile outreach sessions in the hard to reach areas of Zimbabwe. What was the focus and which districts did you cover?

A. The outreach sessions covered Hwange, Binga, Matobo  and Gokwe North districts and had a four pronged agenda 

To encourage children and their families to ensure that children continue to study and be in education mode as schools are currently closed and the reopening dates are not yet known. To raise awareness on COVID-19 and  the prevention measure. To raise awareness on the need to protect children from all forms of abuse during the lockdown. To provide feedback to children and communities on their input towards the child participation strategy. Consultations on the strategy were held with school children, community leaders and community members towards the end of last year.

Q. Which groups of people were you targeting ,WHY?

A. The outreach was targeting all groups of people as they all have a significant role to play in the wellbeing of children.

Q. What are the issues that were raised by children whom you spoke to?

A. A number of issues were raised by children chief among them was the call to have schools reopened soon, as they felt they were now lagging behind in their studies. They also shared that because they are not at schools some of them are not getting enough time to rest or study as they spend most of the days herding cattle.

Q. How did the community respond to these sessions?   

A. Community members were very receptive to the messages we shared and were asking a lot of questions especially on the reopening of schools as well as seeking more understanding on COVID-19.

Q. Did you involve community leadership and what role did they play?  

A. We sought the approval and guidance of both district and community leaders as to which places to cover There was appreciation by leaders of this initiative as attested to by the Gokwe North District Development Coordinator who said he was excited with the activity since it was a first of its kind in the District. No other NGO had thought of us such an impressive and innovative idea. The fact that the awareness raising would touch on COVID-19 preventative measures, child protection, child participation and education was unique in its self. The local stakeholders accompanied the team to the field and in some instances addressed the communities as we drove around.

Q. What measures did you put in place to ensure that you do not expose the community to COVID-19 infections as you carried out the campaign?

A. The outreach team kept a good distance from community members and wore masks throughout. The messages were broadcast using a megaphone that transmits to a distance of 1, 6kms, so community members would listen in the comfort of their homes. We also met some community members at food distribution points who observed the prescribed social distancing. Whenever our team left the car to address such a gathering, we would first sanitise our hands as soon as we got back to the car. 

Q. From your assessment what was the level of understanding on COVID-19 within the communities you were working in?

A. A lot of awareness still needs to be done especially in the hard to reach areas as some of them have no access to radios and in some instances there is no radio transmission.

Q. From your observation were these communities heeding to the call on prevention guidelines they should adhere to, to curb the spread of COVID-19?.

A. In some communities some people were following the prevention guidelines like using masks while in public spaces but in other communities there was laxity.

Q. Do you have plans to cover other districts?

A. Yes, we plan to cover all the eight districts covered under the Norad framework. To date we have covered Binga, Hwange, Gokwe North and Matobo districts. 

Q. Any recommendations?

A. I highly  recommend the use of the megaphone as we work with communities in all our work with communities as it helps in observing social distancing while ensuring that the messages we share are heard loud and clear!