ZALINGEI, Sudan, June 23, 2020/ — More than one million residents from five Darfur states (north, south, east, central, west) are estimated to have directly benefitted from the recently concluded month-long Street Publicity Awareness Campaign (SPAC) on the fight against COVID-19 organized by UNAMID’s Communications and Public Information Section, in collaboration with the state health authorities in the western region of Sudan.
The awareness campaign, led by local health experts from the State Ministries of Health and Social Development, comprised the use of megaphones mounted on open vehicles and vans adorned with posters and banners with slogans on the measures to mitigate and fight against COVID-19, that has so far claimed more than four hundred lives by mid-June 2020.
The campaign was conducted in towns, neighborhoods and outskirts, districts, markets and in 10 internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps across Darfur. Towns covered include El Fasher (North Darfur), Zalingei (Central Darfur), El Geneina (West Darfur), Nyala (South Darfur) and El Daein (East Darfur). The IDPs Camps covered comprise Aboushouk and Al Salaam (North Darfur), Hamidiya, Khamsadagaig, Al Salaam, Hasa Hissa and Tayba (Central Darfur), Dereig and Al Salaam (South Darfur) and Naeem (East Darfur).
Anecdotal feedback received indicate that the SPAC message reached over one million residents in the targeted areas with the following breakdown: 300,000 in South Darfur, 100,000 in North Darfur, 220,000 in Central Darfur and 350,000 in East Darfur. Overall Darfur population is estimated at 9 million.
Mr. Mohammed Yahia, the Deputy Director General of West Darfur Ministry of Health and Social Development, extended his appreciation to UNAMID for supporting the Transitional Government of Sudan (TGoS) in the ongoing efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The campaign has really brought home the devastating effect of COVID-19. Through this street publicity, the message has reached people in the districts, IDPs camps, markets and farmers in the areas on the outskirts of El Geneina town, to places where we could not reach with our means, “Mr. Yahia revealed.
Mr. Adam Arbab Sheikh, a student at the El Imam El Kassim School in El Geneina, west Darfur, who resides in one of the IDPs Camps in the town, stressed the importance of disseminating more information on the negative impact the novel corona virus has on people’s lives, especially the vulnerable people living in the IDPs camps. He commended UNAMID and the state Ministry of Health for allocating two days for the Campaign at the school, calling on the urgent need to provide masks to the residents, as these items are not readily available in the local shops.
A member of the health ministry in El Daien, east Darfur, who preferred anonymity, stated that the campaign, conducted in 10 El Daein residential areas, Buat and Sarhan villages in Bahar EL Arab locality, Abumatariq town, Kario camp for refugees, Algalabi administrative unit and Naeem IDPs camp, has had a significant impact on the way people embraced some of the long observed cultural approaches that he felt should now be avoided in this time of COVID-19, like shaking hands or participating in activities in a crowded environment without wearing masks or hand hygiene observance.
Ms. Hawa Ismael, a vegetable trader in Nyala, in south Darfur said the Street Publicity Campaign enhanced their knowledge on COVID-19; “We have heard people talk about this disease, but people here in the market have limited knowledge about it – how to prevent or event treat it. However, through this Street Publicity Awareness Campaign, the presentations given and the COVID-19 song from Omar Ishas and Shmuz, we gained further information to protect ourselves and help other people to deal with this disease”.
UNAMID continues to work closely with the Transitional Government of Sudan (TGOS) in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic through various types of support including, amongst others, provision of PPE (personal protection equipment), generators, freezers, air conditioners, transportation of blood samples from Darfur to the Sudanese capital Khartoum, reconnaissance flights to the country’s Darfur borders with neighboring countries to assess level of preparedness to combat COVID-19.