Solar-powered radios to battle misinformation on COVID-19 in Eastern Equatoria
In Eastern Equatoria, radio is a crucial way of reaching out to people with essential information on COVID-19 and other important topics, but access to electricity is patchy at best, and batteries are expensive. The solution? Solar-powered radios, distributed by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.
“These radios will help us understand the difference between messages on COVID-19 prevention approved by the World Health Organization and the ongoing rumours and myths spread on social media platforms,” says Orupi David, Deputy Chairperson of the defunct Torit State.
False information about how the Coronavirus spreads and can be cured misleads many citizens across Eastern Equatoria State. By handing out some 400 solar-powered radios to communities in the state, the peacekeeping mission hopes that factual messages, also translated by the UN and aired in a variety of local languages, will increase the awareness level of how to keep oneself and others safe.
“If our communities did not get radios to listen to information in local languages it would have been difficult to raise awareness,” says Elijo Omoro, chairperson of the COVID-19 taskforce in Eastern Equatoria State.
Recipients of the radios are pleased and excited.
“As students, we are very grateful. We can now follow our lessons through the school learning programmes aired on Radio Miraya as well,” says Emmanuela Night Marko, one such fortunate student.
The radio messages are particularly beneficial in remote, rural areas, where security forces, traders, community leaders and others can now stay up to date on the status of the Coronavirus in the state, not to mention information on other important topics, such as progress made in the ongoing national peace process.
“Till now, my family couldn’t access updates on COVID-19, but with these radios we can stay informed and safer than before,” says Ongodo Long, a chief in the Labalwa village.
In Eastern Equatoria and elsewhere in the country, the peacekeeping mission continues to support the taskforces in different states, who lead the coordination of the efforts made to contain the virus.
“We target families with school-going children in the areas where the risk of outbreaks of infections are particularly high, for example in places bordering other countries. They need to make the most from the messaging made possible by the radios,” says Caroline Waudo, Head of the peacekeeping mission’s field office in Eastern Equatoria State.