UNMISS-supported tricycles reach rural communities in Western Equatoria with COVID-19 messages

UNMISS-supported tricycles reach rural communities in Western Equatoria with COVID-19 messages

The UNMISS COVID-19 communications toolbox is huge. In fact, even a tricycle fits, like here, in rural Western Equatoria.

13 Jul 2020

UNMISS-supported tricycles reach rural communities in Western Equatoria with COVID-19 messages

Phillip Mbugo

By foot, by car, and now by tricycle.

Whatever it takes to get the message out about how to prevent COVID-19, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan will do it.

UNMISS has been conducting a major awareness-raising campaign across the country to help prevent the spread of the virus which is already affecting many communities.

In Western Equatoria, the Mission’s field office decided to take an innovative approach to get to hard-to-reach rural areas that are difficult to access with vehicles because of muddy and damaged roads.

They teamed up with the Maridi Service Agency to use tricycles to take critical messages about prevention measures, such as frequent hand-washing and physical distancing, to remote areas. The campaign involves broadcasting audio messages and handing out informational pamphlets in multiple languages.

Residents in these communities are grateful for the chance to learn more about the virus and how to protect themselves.

“It was great to get a leaflet to read about the symptoms and ways to prevent COVID-19,” said Hussein Mohamed, a businessman in Maridi market. “I will take this home to share with my children as my number one priority. Secondly, I will also tell people who come to the market and don’t know about this virus everything that I now know and even give them the leaflet.”

“What they have told us is really good,” said restauranteur Stella Martin. “We need to protect ourselves. No greeting each other by shaking hands or hugging and we must wash our hands at all times.”

The Maridi local government administrator, Henry Enock, said the awareness-raising campaign was particularly effective in reaching audiences in rural communities because it used local languages to communicate.  

“The prevention messages were recorded in many languages and sent to us by UNMISS as well as posters and leaflets which had translated messages in English, Arabic but also Zande,” he said. “This time it is different to other awareness campaigns because they’re using the language that the people understand and use in their lives every day.”

UNMISS is running a similar awareness-raising campaign in partnership with the South Sudan Evangelical Mission in nearby Mundri.

This has helped educate people about the virus and how to minimize the risk of exposure. But the Secretary General in Mundri, Commander Gaious, said the major challenge for the local community was a lack of face masks.

“Our people in Mundri are at risk because they are exposed to others coming from the capital Juba where the infection rate is rising,” he said. “Many of them spend the night here and that increases the risk of exposure to local communities.”

He appealed to humanitarian partners and donors to provide additional hand-washing facilities and masks to help keep the people of Mundri safe.