Angola’s Community-led Response to COVID-19Published: Jul 24, 2020 Reading time: 3 minutes
In June, residents of Angola’s Bula Matady district, located in the municipality of Lubango, received soap, face masks, and bleach from the Association for the Development and Social Framework of Vulnerable Populations (ADESPOV), a local civil society organisation (CSO), to assist in the fight against COVID-19. Residents were also provided with information on how to prevent the spread of the disease.
ADESPOV is one of five CSOs in the provinces of Huíla and Bié to receive small grants for COVID-19-related activities as part of the Youth4Change project, which is funded by the European Union and implemented by People in Need (PIN), in partnership with AJOMA, an Angolan non-profit youth association.
The project aims to empower youth to become active citizens and contribute to Angola’s development. Since the start of the pandemic, the project’s support to youth-oriented CSOs has mainly focused on tackling COVID-19.
Florença Bingo, coordinator of ADESPOV’s COVID-19 distribution efforts, says, “I hope the help we’re giving to these vulnerable families will be of comfort. These families were in need of assistance long before the pandemic, but with this disease, their situation has worsened. I really hope that the little we’re giving will help them.”
Raising awareness about COVID-19 through CSOs
In addition to administering the grants, members of the five CSOs took part in a biosafety training provided by public health departments. The trainings were designed to provide guidance on how to deliver accurate and relevant information about COVID-19 to community members.
Mariana, who lives with her husband and six children in Huíla, attended a COVID-19 awareness-raising activity held by the province’s young women’s association. “I learned that after you go out and before re-entering [the house], you should put your clothes and shoes in a separate room,” she says. “You must also wash your hands, and take a bath, if possible.”
Mariana also discusses preventive measures with her colleagues at the street market where she sells her products. “I wear a face mask and tell the others not to be close, because we need to maintain distance.”
Teresa Mandele, who also received information about COVID-19 from ADESPOV, says “I promise to share the messages I received [here] with other members of my family.” Regarding the hygiene products she received, she adds: “I’m very grateful. I never imagined that I’d receive this aid.”
Supporting provincial youth councils
In addition to supporting CSOs, the Youth4Change project is assisting provincial youth councils in Bié and Huíla with the purchase of informational leaflets and hygiene and protective materials for distribution to vulnerable families.
Virgílio Roberto, the youth council secretary in Bié, says: “We felt it was necessary to take the lead in raising awareness in communities that often lack information, in order to minimise the impact of this disease.”
In the Eiva district of the Lubango municipality, Huíla province, Luciano attended a recent COVID-19-related activity held by the local youth council. “It’s hard to get face masks and hygiene materials here, since the prices are high. Thank you very much [for the protective gear]; I’m very happy,” he says.
Keeping beneficiaries and staff safe
Bingo explains that when planning awareness-raising campaigns, the safety of beneficiaries and staff is a top priority. “Before we went into the field, we made it a point to sit down and talk about maintaining distance and wearing face masks,” she says. “We needed to ensure that we, as a team, are following all of the precautionary measures so that we can then pass on the same information to the project beneficiaries.”