TRAINING ON COVID 19 RESPONSE AND DISTRIBUTION OF HYGIENE KITS AND WASH MATERIALS TO FOUR BORDER DISTRICTS IN SIERRA LEONE

Donation of hygiene kits and hand washing material, by the MRU / Port Loko

From 11 to 14, May, 2020, a training workshop of the Joint Border Security and Confidence Building Units (JBSCBUs) was held in targeted border districts of Sierra Leone/Guinea, and Sierra Leone/Liberia, namely the districts of Kambia and Pujehun on the one hand, and the districts of Kono and Porto Loko on the other hand. This activity on strengthening border communities and early warning structures to support the response to COVID 19 pandemic in Sierra Leone was jointly implemented by Office of National Security (ONS), Independent Police Complaints Board (IPCB) and Mano River Union (MRU), with the support from UNDP.

Participants observing social distancing in Jendema

This mission mobilized almost 133 people from border communities, police officers, soldiers, and paramilitary officers residing and or working in the districts of Kambia, Port Loko, Pujehun and Kono.

This activity, which took place in two phases in the four Districts. The first phase was the training to strengthen the capacities of the target populations and the second phase was the delivery of hygiene and hand washing kits to the joint border units, which was well received by the beneficiaries. In his remark, the Paramount Chief, Bai Farma Bubu Ngak 1V of Magbema (Kambia District) said ‘’I am very happy, today going from this place, I have learned more and I know how to communicate with my community about the disease. I am sufficiently strengthened to prevent the spread of the pandemic in my community.’’ Similar sentiment was re-echoed by participants in all the four border Districts.

Reaction of a participant during the training / Kambia town

The training emphasized the establishment of an early warning and rapid response mechanism among the population to be able to resolve local challenges using local initiatives; Share information and knowledge on issues that can directly or otherwise lead to a tendency to undermine authority; Increase knowledge (through IEC training and materials) and strengthen existing community structures to support relaying information to district or community structures in the COVID response. The Mano River Union and its partners delivered various presentations which attracted a lot of interactions between the participants and the presenting teams ranging from prevention and control of COVID 19, the management of suspected or proven cases by the military and other security apparatus. At the end of the training sessions, the participants noted the importance of the training and how it has better informed the people about COVID 19. In Port Loko, Mr. Bangura, who represented the Paramount chief of Bakehloko chiefdom (Port Loko) noted that, When people are more aware, then they will know how to react and how to interact. ‘’.

The second phase of this activity was the handing over of hygiene kits and hand washing facilities, by the Mano River Union, to the joint border units of Jendema and Gbalamuya; and the Communities of Pujehun and Koidu.

It should be emphasized that this donation is strategic in this fight against COVID-19, as it contributes greatly to reducing the rate of the spread of the disease, as recommended by the World Health Organization and adopted by the Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone, as a key preventive measure. During the handing over ceremony of the kits in Port Loko, the recipient, Mr. Stephen Tucker, Police Superintendent : said ‘’ I want to thank Mano River Union for donating this facility to the communities. In fact, we have a serious problem. The problem of hand washing. Our people are still here and do not believe that they should wash their hands. The facility will be placed in the market, where people are coming to the market can make maximum use of it. We know, we will move forward in this fight against coronavirus and we will win it. Very soon, coronavirus will be a thing of the past.’’

The MRU has identified additional 30 Joint Border Security and Confidence Building Units (JBSCBUs) where similar support shall be given in the fight against the pandemic. The donation of these materials to the Border Units have been made possible with the support of the UNDP, which in November 2019 signed a MoU with the MRU. This MRU initiative reflects its commitment to the Government of Sierra Leone in the response against COVID19.

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