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Red Cross embraces Covid-19 measures

By Style Reporter

The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) is continuing with its food distribution programme in vulnerable communities despite the 21-day lockdown that was imposed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to slow down the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19).

However, the humanitarian organisation, which has put on hold its long-term programmes, has put in place measures to protect people’s health and prevent the spread of the novel virus.

ZRCS head of communication and corporate affairs Stambuli Kim told Standard Style that as an auxiliary to public authorities’ humanitarian interventions, the organisation was playing its key role in the fight against Covid-19 through a number of initiatives.

“Under the social protection cluster, our food distributions in vulnerable communities are going on, but under special arrangements where community members are coming in batches of 40 while they also maintain social distancing and basic handwashing is observed,” Kim said.

“Our staff and volunteers have been capacitated with personal protective equipment to minimise exposure.

“Standard operating procedures for distributions compliant to the government’s restrictive measures were developed and are being applied in the food distributions.

“The food distributions are closely supervised by Ministry of Health and Child Care officials.”

ZRCS’s food distribution programme, where it is partnering the World Food Programme in the USAid-funded initiative, is targeted at vulnerable people in Kwekwe rural where 58 425 people are benefiting, while in Makonde 38 182 people are benefiting.

In Muzarabani, ZRCS is reaching out to 78 207 people.

The project is also being implemented in Gokwe North in the Midlands province, Binga and Siakobvu in Matabeleland North and Mashonaland West provinces respectively, reaching out to over 76 500 people.

ZRCS is implemening the programme with support from the Finnish Red Cross, Danish Red Cross and the European Union-Humanitarian Aid.

“Risk and communication awareness is being done to all these beneficiaries through public address messages as well as through mobilisation by the village leaders and community volunteers and village health workers,” Kim said.

“Posters and banners with Covid-19 messages are also being used on the food distribution programmes.”

Kim said the institutional measures for workplace infection prevention were being applied and highly embraced by the ZRCS staff during the food distribution programmes.

Meanwhile, Kim said ZRCS was augmenting government efforts in containing Covid-19.

“In support of the Covid-19 national response plan, ZRCS, through its wide network of community-based volunteers and staff, rolled out risk communication and community engagement trainings throughout the country well before the national lockdown,” he said.

“Through these sessions, our key volunteers and staff were equipped with the correct and relevant information on what Covid-19 is, how one contracts it, how one can prevent its spread and also what to do when they encounter a suspected case.”

Kim said ZRCS also donated buckets, soap and jerry cans to all the country’s provinces for the promotion of hand-washing.

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