From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja
ActionAid Nigeria has embarked on strengthening of rural community groups against Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) through awareness creation and sensitisation campaigns with a commitment to cover over 36,000 inhabitants in Kogi State.
Mr Anicetus Atakpu, ActionAid Resilience Programmes Coordinator disclosed this at a Door-to-Door COVID-19 Precautionary Awareness Campaign and strengthening of Community facilitators in Koton-Karfe community, Kogi-KK Local Government on Saturday.
He said that although there was no recorded positive case of COVID-19 in Kogi at the moment, ActionAid had continued its public awareness campaign and sensitization at the grassroots in the state in view of the fast spread and daily increase in number of cases across the country.
Atakpu said that the programme was in pursuance of the System And Structure Strengthening Approach Against Radicalization to Violent Extremism (SARVE II) Project being implemented in Kogi and Nasarawa States and funded by Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF).
“A week ago when the sensitisation campaign was launched in Kogi State, ActionAid Nigeria identified huge gaps of misinformation, misconceptions and lack of preparedness by community groups and members.
“This informed her decision to commence an awareness campaign as a way of complimenting the state government’s efforts especially as some hoodlums have leveraged on the situation to perpetuate violence in communities across the country.
“ActionAid Nigeria is taking a proactive step in this regard to ensure that residents of Kogi state, particularly our project beneficiaries, are properly sensitised, informed and united to prevent and combat the deadly coronavirus”, he said.
The Coordinator said that ActionAid in collaboration with Participation Initiative for Behavioural Change In Development (PIBCID) had engaged community facilitators and established Community Action And Response Teams (CART) members to reach out to the communities.
“Our target is to reach over 36,000 community inhabitants especially our SARVE II project communities especially, the most vulnerable, while prioritising women, children, nursing mothers and the elderly”, he said.
Speaking in same vein, Mrs Halima Sadiq, Executive Director, PIBCID, ActionAid’s local rights partners in Kogi, urged the facilitators to, in their door-to-door community engagement, promote hand washing and other hygienic practices using their local dialect.
She urged them to place emphasis on debunking wrong messages and myths around the virus saying that COVID-19 was no respecter of persons, not a rich man’s disease and neither can it be cured through drinking of dry gin (Ogogoro) and alcohol.
The Ohimege of Koton-Karfe, Alhaji Abdulrazaq Isa-Koto represented by his Chief of Staff, Mallam Adamu Wokili, promised to ensure success of the campaign by engaging in house-to-house and village-to-village sensitisation and awareness.
The monarch said, “So far, God has prevented the virus from coming to Kogi State and we pray Him to wide it out of the country (Nigeria).”