By Ali Sabo
“Coronaviruses are zoonotic, which are normally transmitted between animals and people. The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is caused by a new strain of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that has not been previously identified in humans. It was first reported to WHO on the 31st of December, 2019 in Wuhan, China.” (NCDC)
On 27 February, Nigeria confirmed its first case of Covid-19 in Lagos State by an Italian citizen working in Nigeria when he returned to the country on February 25th from Milan, a city identified as an epi centre of the virus then through Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
In late April, precisely on 25th of April, 2020 Kano State recorded its index case of the disease. Prior to the reportage of the index case in the State, the state government had taken of measures to prevent the spread of the virus. Kano as one of the country’s centres of commerce and a major trade hub in the northern region would be a catastrophe and difficult to control a pandemic of this kind if allow to escalate.
Even before the index case of the virus in Kano State, as part of its contribution to ensuring the protection of the citizens’ lives in the state, the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) had been issuing press releases to draw the attention of people in authority on the need to implement preventive measures in the state, like banning gathering of large number of people, proper monitoring of the state’s borders to stop others from entering the state from any border, co-opting of citizens groups to any committee that would be formed, sensitizing religious leaders on Covid19, setting up a public awareness committee on Covid19 and ensure compliance of the preventive measures as set up by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).
At the peak of the prevalence of the virus in the state, CITAD intensified its efforts on awareness creation on the need for the citizens to adhere to the Covid19 protocols in the state. This was done using different social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter. Part of this campaign was the Twitter Chat with hashtag #CITADAgainstCOVID19 initiated by the Centre which is being conducted twice every week. In the twitter chat, experts from every profession i.e. health, media, policy makers, academicians, social influencers etc. are being invited to discuss on specific topic in order to educate the public and raise awareness and enlighten the public about the importance of following the WHO and NCDC guidelines.
However, as the campaign continued to garner momentum, the Centre got a support from MacArthur Foundation and International Institute of Education where it expanded its interventions with training of 120 youth in Kano State on various ways in responding to Covid19. Given the need to observe social distancing, the training was conducted online. The youth during the training were taught how to develop messages, how to use social media to create awareness on Covid19. They were also trained on community mobilization, persuasion and how to identify key influencers in their communities. In the training also the youth were exposed on how to help their community members fight and prevent the spread of coronavirus in their communities; the importance of observing social distancing, wearing facemasks and hand washing. At the end of the training the participants were asked to write a proposal and 41 of them who had promising proposals were given mini-grants to implement some activities in their communities. The most interesting thing about the mini grant was that youth from different communities in the state were being sub-granted and carried out the activities they proposed in their communities, this had given the sensitization campaigns more acceptance by the community people seeing their sons and daughters were the ones doing the campaign. The sensitization campaigns reached huge number of people including people who in normal campaign could not be reached, but due to the strategies implored by CITAD to trained members of the communities and allow them to sensitize their people had helped the campaign to achieve a lot. Some of the uniqueness of the campaign included Door to Door campaigns where some of the sub-grantees especially females entered house to house to sensitize women in their communities who would not be able to attend town halls meetings and other forms of gathering while others followed people to their religious gathering like mosques and churches and trained them on the importance of adhering to Covid19 protocols.
During the project some of the sub-grantees produced different types of locally hand-made sanitizers, hand wash, trained women in their communities on how to produce hand wash and hand sanitizer and how to be resilient during the pandemic while others developed messages on fliers on Covid19 protocols and distributed in their communities. At religious places, the sub-grantees distributed fliers produced and pasted banners at entrances containing Covid19 protocols. To ensure inclusiveness, three of the beneficiaries of the mini grants conducted their activities at People Living with Disabilities communities. While one of them was a disabled the other two were trained signing language facilitators.
In order ensure the message has reach every corner in the state, the centre also sponsored three different radio programs. Two were at Vision FM and Express Radio called Yaki Da Cutar Korona and Mu Kare Kanmu Daga Cutar Korona respectively. The third program ran on Arewa Radio, another popular station in the state. These programs were designed to enlighten the people about Covid19 and all the necessary information people needed to know about the pandemic. The programs which were being aired weekly used to invite professionals to come and discuss on a specific topics each week.
Similarly, when schools resumed in the state, CITAD felt it was important to train the state’s teachers on adjusting to new normal and NCDC guidelines as regards to reopening schools. In this aspect, CITAD trained 180 teachers from Kano State Senior Secondary Schools Management Board and Kano State Science and Technical Management Board who are expected to go back to their schools and also step down the training to their follow teachers and students to ensure the safety of the teachers and students at schools.
To promote literacy and devise other ways in sending messages in the society, the Centre also supported and sponsored the publication of 1000 copies of selected poems on Covid19 which is being developed into a book titled Corona Blues.
Other intervention made by the Centre includes production of short campaign videos and serving as the Secretariat of Kano Against Covid19 Committee. Kano Against Covid19 is an initiative of Kano State concerned citizens and Civil Society leaders set up to mobilize support for the Covid19 pandemic in Kano State
Ali Sabo is the Communication Officer and Coordinator Covid-19 Project, CITAD. He can be reached either by his email address: firstname.lastname@example.org or his twitter handle: @a_sabo12