COVID-19 Community Outreach Program
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Young Mothers Support Group (YMSG) is committed to a rapid response to the COVID - 19 pandemic - which has greatly affec
YMSG is targeting to work on coordinating the COVID-19 response with local caretakers, 5 schools, local community leaders, 120 homesteads in the remote rural areas of Ngevini Chiefdom , as well as the Ministry of Health of Eswatini in a period of 3 months. The organization’s response to infectious disease has been centered on offering support systems, capacity building, training on awareness raising campaigns on the plight of the community in the rural areas. As part of the Institutional Strengthening Roadmap, the organization intends to initiate the ‘YMSG COVID-19 Community Outreach Project’ through which the organization will play a significant part in the battle against COVID-19, subsequently empowering the community and schools within the rural Ngevini Chiefdom area.
In our recent community engagements which included food, hand sanitizer and face mask distribution within the Phumlamcashi Community, we were able to engage effectively to 30 impoverished children, thanks to our existing community ties with the community’s health care takers from local soup kitchens, the member of parliament and the Chief of Ngevini Chiefdom .
Our proposed response to COVID-19 would be in 3 rural communities (Manyovu, Phumlamcashi and Logoba) where in each community the target is 40 homesteads, as well as 5 schools within the constituency.
While the organization desires much to reach out to all rural communities in rural Ngevini Chiefdom , limited resources remain the determining factor of how far the organization can go at a given time. Therefore, the selected communities that will benefit in the for the YMSG COVID-19 Community Outreach Project, which will run for 3 months with hope for expansion to other communities given funds availability. The selected communities are located in the deep rural areas of Ngevini Chiefdom , way further from civilization and composed of low-income population. Due to the remoteness of the communities, there is communication barear since media and news outlets are inaccessible thereby limiting the knowledge about valid news especially about COVID-19. Without such knowledge, cases could be accumulating without detection and no health facility near-by to run to in case of suspected infection, nor a know-how of handling a suspected patient. Therefore, the organization realized a sense of emergency of bolstering these communities with aid in the form of face masks, sanitation packages, sensitization and psychosocial support during the pandemic.
The socioeconomic and ecological benefits that come from healthy communities must not be denied to another generation. YMSG is committed to ensuring that the specific needs of rural Ngevini Chiefdom are addressed as part of the response to this devastating pandemic. The mission of the organization is to support government initiative in curbing the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 and Women
It has been proven that disease outbreaks affect women, girls, men, boys and persons of all genders differently, as well as at-risk and marginalized groups, as power discrepancies are often exacerbated, and vulnerabilities deepened.
Young Mothers Support Group is targeting a special focus on women and girls and we will continue to ensure that their specific needs are addressed as part of the response to this devastating pandemic. In order to inform its programming and ensure that the specific needs of women and girls are taken into consideration. As indicated by recent desktop studies, COVID-19 has affected women and girls in the following manner:
– Significant increase in women’s unpaid care roles: Women perform the vast majority of unpaid care work—more than three times as much as men. During public health crises such as COVID-19, this labor will often involve taking care of sick family members, and in the case of school closures, looking after children.
– The community caregivers: Community caregivers at the community’s soup kitchens face a double caregiving burden—one at work, and one at home. 100% of local areas caregivers are women. However, in this workplace where the women volunteer their time and lives are, on average, not paid. They also risk stigmatization due to caring for COVID-19 patients.
– High risk of increased gender-based violence (GBV) during the pandemic: As one example, domestic violence cases could rise dramatically as people face quarantine, potentially with abusers, during the corona virus outbreak. Increased GBV during the COVID-19 pandemic will create more demand and greater need for services.
– Increased barriers to accessing health care: Maternal health is already a critical issue for women around the world; 61% of maternal deaths occur in fragile states, many of them affected by conflict and recurring natural disasters. COVID-19 is likely to increase barriers for accessing contraception and life-saving maternal care.
– Women are largely missing from COVID 19 decision-making: Despite women’s contribution as community care givers, breadwinners, they are often excluded from the decision making at the local community, national and regional level, which impacts their ability to ensure their specific vulnerabilities and capabilities are embedded into the response.
COVID-19 in the Kingdom of Eswatini
The country, as of Juanuary 4, 2021, has 10,338 confirmed cases of COVID – 19 and 252 reported deaths. The numbers, both for cases and deaths, escalate daily, now deaths occurring almost daily, in multiples while previously in previous months deaths were stable with one or no death in a week. The highest confirmed cases, also deaths, are from the highly urbanized regions of Manzini and Hhohho. Though the Lubombo region has the lowest cases, it is likely due to limited testing resulting from inadequate access information on COVID – 19 and testing centres, also government and private health services. arguably, the actual number of cases in this region is higher than reported.
As with everywhere else in the world, the numbers are changing daily. For further details on the number of cases in the kingdom of Eswatini please see the official Government website at www.gov.sz.
While this is a global pandemic affecting more than 208 countries and territories, some communities present higher risk either because of the lack of adequate health systems to respond to this crisis or because they are already responding to other humanitarian situations that will be aggravated by the COVID-19 crisis.
Rural Communities in the Kingdom of Eswatini, such as Phumlamcashi, Manyovu and Logoba Communities, all under Ngevini Chiefdom in the Lubombo region are oblivious of COVID – 19, establishing conditions where the virus can spread quickly.
YMSG’s analysis has found that the country’s ‘highest risk’ population have three times higher exposure to epidemics, such as COVID-19, but also have a six times higher risk in terms of their access to healthcare compared to the country’s lowest risk areas.
While the Corona Virus is a global pandemic, people living in low income settings, such as the communities YMSG works with and are faced with poverty, face a triple burden as they face the onset of COVID19 in their communities:
– Higher transmissibility due to factors such as larger household sizes, social mixing between the young and elderly, inadequate water and sanitation;
– Higher progression to severe disease due to the virus’ interaction with highly prevalent underlying conditions, including non-communicable diseases, undernutrition, tuberculosis and HIV; and
– Higher case-fatality due to a dire lack of intensive care capacity, especially in rural areas.
The communities YMSG work has always been food insecure, with a majority of their population requiring humanitarian aid for survival. Add on COVID-19 and it is not only national health systems that will struggle to cope, but the entire national infrastructure and basic services.
The above suggests that we need to very rapidly adapt our existing programs and initiate new approaches in the Kingdom of Eswatini – in order to continue providing lifesaving humanitarian assistance and position vulnerable communities and individuals to be as resilient as possible to the impact of COVID-19.
YMSG will apply a resilience approach to build future capacities at community, household, schools and individual levels to prevent the re-emergence and spread of the disease. YMSG COVID-19 Community Outreach Project’s is orchestrated to response to COVID-19 are centered on the following key pillars, which YMSG will adapt/implement as appropriate:
1. Hygiene promotion: The organization through YMSG COVID-19 Community Outreach Project intends to promote good hygiene as a way of curbing the spread of COVID-19 in the rural communities of Ngevini Chiefdom area. This includes:
– providing hand sanitizer, face masks and sensitization on COVID-19.
– providing 25L water buckets, bar soap, face masks and sensitization on COVID-19.
In addition to existing safety and security measures, YMSG has developed COVID-19 specific mitigation measures to further minimize risk to staff, stakeholders and beneficiaries. These include ensuring the correct use of face masks, hand sanitizer, temperature testing and observing social distancing throughout the project.
2. Community engagement: YMSG strives to provide guidance to the communities, schools and stakeholders on risks, prevention, signs and symptoms, as well as seek their input and participation to help fight the outbreak. Women and girls remain central to this effort, as they frequently play the primary role in household hygiene. YMSG will provide reliable information during homestead and school visits, in coordination with national government messaging/materials on the current situation with regards to infection rates to counter negative impacts of misinformation and rumors. The organization staff and stakeholders (community caretakers) involved in the response will be trained on COVID-19 Regulations, hygiene practices and measures to help keep themselves and their communities safe.
3. Gender and Protection, including GBV: Recognizing the disproportionate impact of public health crises on women and girls, YMSG include, in all of our emergency response work a focus on protection for vulnerable populations, including women and girls, given the elevated risk of sexual and gender-based violence during emergencies. YMSG will engage communities, throughout the outreach, addressing issues of abuse during the pandemic, to help reduce the risk of GBV as well as increase accessibly to response services. Further, identified victims will be linked with relevant structures for further professional assistance.
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Young Mothers Support Group needs a grant/funding so that the organization can implement the project and help the Eswatini's communities.
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