USAID Supports House-to-House Community Awareness on COVID-19 in Nigeria’s Northeast

Speeches Shim

Tuesday, April 14, 2020
A USAID-supported trainer advises villagers on COVID-19 safety in Nigeria's Borno State.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provided the first international support to Nigeria’s Yobe State, its Health Commissioner said.

The assistance is part of a larger initiative to build awareness to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to the country’s conflict-ravaged northeast.

In Yobe and Borno states, two of the most severely impacted by the decade -long conflict with violent extremists Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa, USAID conducted sensitization training for 100 voluntary community mobilizers in each state as they prepare for a five-day, door-to-door awareness campaign to curb the spread of the virus.

In Yobe, State Director of Public Health Dr. Hauwa Goni joined officials from the state and district nursing services, primary healthcare agencies, and health management boards to launch what she referred to as a “timely and humane” effort to minimize spread of the virus in areas with decimated health infrastructures.

“This historic intervention comes at the best possible time,” Dr. Goni said. “Awareness creation is the only effective tool to fight the spread of COVID-19.” Under a pair of grants from USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) through the Nigeria Lake Chad Basin program, the training provided participants the fundamentals of international best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19 such as social distancing protocols.

During the five days of the field work, each volunteer will cover 40 households per day to reach 20,000 households in the state capital Damaturu district, distributing posters, handbills, and stickers to households and in the community beyond the family visits. USAID support also includes stipends and reimbursement of travel expenses for the volunteers, as well as monitoring in partnership with the state Ministry of Health.

Dr. Goni said the Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni was “overwhelmed” when he saw one of the six large billboards in the streets of the capital. In adjacent Borno State, the epicenter of the insurgency, the ministries of Women’s Affairs and Health launched a similar USAID-supported campaign targeted at vulnerable populations in ten targeted communities in anticipated hot spots across the state. At the launch, Borno State’s Ministry of Women Affairs Commissioner Hajiya Zuwaira Gambo urged women in particular to maintain a high level of hygiene under the threat of COVID -19 as she demonstrated proper handwashing techniques before assembled participants and local media. The Borno activity is also expected to reach 20,000 households over five days of outreach.

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