Pakistan's Rural Communities Fight Against COVID-19

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Dissemination and Reinforcement of Basic Preventive Messages on COVID-19 in Urban and Peri Urban Union Councils

Brief introduction of the project:

As depicted by the name of the project that is “Dissemination and Reinforcement of Basic Preventive Messages on COVID-19in Urban and Peri-Urban Union Councils”, RSPN and RSP partners have started implementing the project activities ranging from market-level campaigns to mobilise market committees, shopkeepers and public to follow SOPs, announcements in Mosques/religious places, megaphone announcements in streets, corner meetings with youth at the community level, awareness sessions in educational institutes, Focus group discussion with communities (shopkeepers, visitors, youths, religious leaders, etc.) on the perception of people about COVID-19 and use of SOPs. In addition, the production of radio and social media products are planned with two communication consultants.

These all activities for dissemination and reinforcement of basic preventive messages on COVID-19 will result in an increased number of targeted communities reached on COVID-19 core prevention and action measures.

A brief overview of all activities

The project has two phases (preparatory phase and implementation phase). All the details of activities under the project with achievement (activities implementation has just started) are mentioned below:

Preparatory Phase:

The duration of this phase was one month. During this phase, RSPN worked on seekingpermission from concerned authorities to implement the project. RSPN coordinated with NCOC for their support for swift approval of permissions from relevant provincial and district administrations against which NCOC has notified all the concerned departments and authorities.

In addition, staff identification and recruitment for 228 staff members was carried out. RSPN and its partner RSPs ensured that staff taken on board is well versed with the local language, culture and is well acquainted with the geographic and socio-political and religious context of the areas assigned to them. Most staff members are local, belonging to project districts. These all 228 staff members have been trained through two training of trainers (TOTs) conducted in Islamabad & Karachi and training of social mobilisers conducted in relevant Districts.

Finalisation of messages to be disseminated was carried out that includes IEC material and the messages (written) for megaphone and mosque announcements.

Implementation Phase:

The duration of this phase is four months (January to April 2021) and the approved project activities as per the approved work plan include:

Market level Campaigns to Mobilise Market Committees, Shopkeepers, and the Public to follow SOPs: There are a large number of small and large markets in the target union councils. On a daily basis, each Social Mobilisation Team – SMT – (comprising of two male social mobilisers and one-woman social mobiliser) conducts meetings with the market committee to discuss the SOPs issued by the government and encourage them to enforce them in the concerned markets. Each SMT is also visiting 30 shops, grocery stores and restaurants/hotels per day to provide information about SOPs to their owners and the customers present there at that time. 

Announcements in Mosques/Religious Places:

RSPN/RSPs social mobilisations teams are implementing this activity in close coordination with District Administration as well as Aqua Department. On a daily basis, each SMT is visiting four religious places to first meet with religious leaders appointed there and brief them about their role in the dissemination of preventive messages and compliance with SOPs issued by the government/NCOC for mosques i.e. wear masks and maintain a social distance of at least 2 meters while offering prayers, etc.

On a daily basis, each SMTs with support from religious leaders are making announcements from four religious places and are disseminating the same messages given to them for announcements. Separate data on announcements from mosques, churches, and temples are maintained. 

Megaphone Announcements in Streets:

Social Mobilisers are making these megaphone announcements in the streets. Where possible, women Social Mobilisers are also making megaphone announcements. On a daily basis, each SMT is making megaphone announcements in eight streets, neighborhoods/mohallas, and street crossing.

Corner meetings with Youth at Community level:

On a daily basis, SMTs are visiting different streets for megaphone announcements and during their visits to streets, they are also conducting three corner meetings with youth (02 with male and 01 with female) available in streets or playgrounds. The number of participants in such meetings is not exceeding seven and Social Mobilisers are ensuring that participants sit or stand at a distance of two meters. By using the pictorial leaflets, Social Mobilisers are providing information to youth about the severity of the second wave of COVID-19 and also encouraging them to use masks properly, maintain social distance and follow other SOPs. 

Awareness Sessions in Schools:

The implementation of activities in educational institutions has started as schools have started reopening. Each SMT is covering about 10 public sector schools/colleges, madrassahs or universities in each target union council. Social Mobiliser is first conducting meetings with School Management and teachers and briefing them about the SOPs issued by NCOC.

Social Mobilisers is conducting two sessions with students enrolled in secondary and higher secondary classes and are briefing them about the proper use of masks, maintaining social distancing and handwashing with soap. 

Implementing partners:

The implementing partners for the project includes:

  • Rural Support Programmes Network (RSPN) for Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), Punjab and Sindh
  • Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP) for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
  • Balochistan Rural Support Programme (BRSP) for Balochistan

However, RSPN is primarily responsible for project management, quality assurance in implementation, monitoring or project activities, compliance to donor procedures and reporting.

Geographical coverage:

The project is being implemented in 180 urban and peri-urban union councils in 13 districts of Pakistan. These districts have been selected by RSPN in consultation with UNICEF on the basis of the number of COVID-19 cases. Districts include six districts of Karachi in Sindh province (Karachi West, Karachi South, Karachi Korangi, Karachi Central, Karachi Malir and Karachi East), Hyderabad (Sindh province), Quetta (Balochistan province), Islamabad Capital Territory, Rawalpindi (Punjab province), Peshawar, Swat and Abbottabad (all three in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province).

Project Objectives/outputs:

The project objective is “Basic preventive messages on COVID-19 promoted and reinforced at the community level in urban and peri-urban areas” whereas the main output we foresee is “Increased number of targeted communities reached on COVID-19 core prevention and action measures”

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