HI is taking special measures in Madagascar in response to the health emergency, following several confirmed cases of COVID-19. As part of two projects organised with the NGO CARE and funded by the European Union, local relief teams are being trained to convey core prevention messages on the disease and to limit its spread. The teams are staffed by volunteers, men and women of all ages, including people with disabilities.
Relief teams adapt to the emergency
The local relief teams involved in these two projects normally work on prevention and natural disaster and weather risk management, to help people develop responses to cyclones, floods, etc. One project targets more than 300,000 people, including 300 highly vulnerable families, 60 schools and 43 disaster risk management committees, while another targets 412,000 people, including older people and people with disabilities, along with 23 local organisations. All of them will have their awareness raised by the local relief teams and will learn to protect themselves and their friends and families from COVID-19.
Providing vital information
Essential information on the virus, its transmission, the symptoms, suspected cases and people at risk, but also social distancing, hand washing, routine prevention measures, practical advice and other ways of raising awareness of health and protection measures are urgently required to combat COVID-19. HI is training the members of the local relief teams, teaching them how to protect themselves and raise the awareness of the people they assist. The learning aids used, such as posters and leaflets, comply with international standards. Posters will be displayed in each sector of the village communities (fokontany) where we work and in schools supported by the project. Specific and adapted advice will be provided to those with communication problems, such as deaf people, people with hearing impairments, and the visually impaired.
Training has already started
Training sessions have already begun in the regions of Boeny, Betsiboka and Diana, and particularly in the fokontany of Ambalavola, in the urban district of Diego. Participants were asked to stay a minimum of one metre apart and to refrain from any physical contact. Although more used to talking about weather-related natural disaster risks, such as cyclones and floods, the twelve members of this local relief team understood the pressing need for this initiative, faced with the epidemic. Each member follows the news closely and takes their role very much to heart.
A member of the local relief team and deputy head of the Ambalavola fokontany, Paul has already started raising people’s awareness, he explains:
“At a gathering this morning, we asked beneficiaries to stay one metre apart. This training is very important because some information is not known here,” he explains. “The training allows us to separate the facts from the rumours and fake news circulating now, and to get across evidence-based, focused and comprehensive messages on how to prevent the disease. We also taught them new things, like hand-washing techniques. Now it is our turn to play our part.”