The emergence of Covid-19 pandemic gave credence to the statement that it takes a village to raise a child and in East Africa during the pandemic the Amref Health Africa - NBCC coalition became our village. Pulling together diverse stakeholders bringing different strengths, knowhow and experiences, the coalition delivered much needed assistance to the most vulnerable during the pandemic period.
To make it work, the coalition members had to create synergies, synergies that created a unity of purpose, synergies for efficiencies and synergies for raising resources that needed to make the whole coalition work. For most of the partners, this journey was a journey of discovery; we did notknow what curveballs the pandemic will throw our way, we did not know how the variants will affect us thus pretty much we were groping in the dark.
With this uncertainty, the secretariat became the glue that held the coalition together they adapted the strategies to the dynamism of the pandemic, the information and misinformation circulating and building trust within the communities we were targeting with our interventions and the achievements over all were:
1. Over 32 million reached with key messaging: amongst other multi-media and on-ground campaigns,Unilever under HBCC1 developed innovative assets including the PASSWORD(hand-face-space-surface) campaign, which was run on mainstream media.
2. WASH products procured and delivered to the most at-risk populations: 5,400 handwashing stations, 100,000 masks and 311,500 bars of soaps
3. Capacity building &financing: Over10,000 healthcare workers and community volunteers trained on COVID-19infection, prevention and control; equipped government quarantine facilities; aided the proper disposal of medical waste; provided food and transportation to medical frontline workers
Through the learnings from HBCC1, the takeout that we are carrying into HBCC2 is anchored on two premises what did not work and how we made it work. Our strategy will be informed and guided by success areas from the maiden engagement but also adopted to the day’s status quo,
Critical to our success will be being one with the target community, our engagements will be designed for and with the communities we want to reach. Given the fatigue, hesitancy and other concerns, building them solutions within these communities and letting them own the process will be critical to our success. In building within these communities, exchanges happen and we will also embrace local knowledge and knowhow into the solutions. This local knowledge is always deeply rooted in the culture and behaviors and understanding them will allow us to adopt or weave our interventions in the local conversations and subsequently in the norms.
Success of HBCC2 will also be anchored in the efficiency of our organization structure, one built on strong leadership, accountable and adaptable to the stakeholder’s dynamics that allows for partners to participate and complement each other with their diverse efforts and strengths. With the leadership, our accountability and reporting was central to our success as we were able to keep tabs and take remedial measures to keep our efforts on track.
There is need to create coordinated partnerships to support government stewardship while working closely with strong implementing partners. This is a win-win strategy that will create a smooth working environment.
Finally our ability to communicate and communicate well at corporate and grass root level cannot be overstated, and this communication will be used to pass messages, built trust, counter opposition and reassure our target audiences that they are on the right path with our interventions. Critical to getting our communication across will be leveraging on the digital space and the advantages it presents in reaching the masses at a very personal level. Digital also gives the youth a platform that they have embraced and can engage in as their buy-in, participation and endorsement of the HBCC2 mission gives credence as they represent the early adopters and influencers in most communities. In this regard the youth will be involved, engaged and mobilized in our plans as we prepare them to influence change and be part of the new reality.
Our journey forward still has many uncertainties but we have seen from HBCC1 that the effort we put in not only mitigated the impact ofCovid-19, it also brought a myriad of benefits in the target communities. Today we are glad to report during our maiden effort because of hand washing, keeping safe distances and wearing masks, incidences of a broad spectrum of diseases significantly dropped and the over 10,000 community health workers trained brought new knowledge and knowhow closer home to these communities.
Further, our partners have also come in stronger and wiser and collectively we will work together to deliver better, deliver faster and deliver leaner. Onward to the challenge ahead.
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