Kigali – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is engaging migrants along transit and business convergence points in raising awareness on prevention measures against COVID-19. This is being done through radio, as well as risk communication messages, as part of efforts to reach communities with COVID-19 messages.
More than 1 million people have been reached to date in an outreach campaign launched in the western part of the country. This comes as many were travelling for school and business, and to join their families for the festive season.
The awareness-raising campaign targeted markets and bus stations because of their high susceptibility to transmission and spread of COVID-19 during the festive season, especially because of the heightened activity including trade and movement. To ensure that the message reached its targeted audiences, the campaign focused on the use of popular radio stations, posters, and targeted champions in Rubavu, Karonge and Musanze.
Musanze bus station, one of the targeted stations, receives at least 20,000 passengers daily, all of whom would be travelling to different destinations.
Through the live interactive radio programme, listeners were able to call in and have their questions answered.
One radio listener, a vegetable vendor at Gisenyi Main Market who identified herself as Agnes said, “From this radio station, because the message is repeated every time, I’m always reminded to wear my mask and to wash my hands regularly.”
Joseline, a regular at the terminus where she buys tomatoes for resale in her village of Kaningi, reaffirms the importance of adhering to the prevention measures for both herself and her family. “My family depends on me, I cannot afford to get corona because nobody will support my children, that is why I take these COVID messages seriously.”
The message also targeted schoolgoing children, shop owners, vendors, and bus conductors through campaign posters disseminated to the local schools.
“It is important to have these posters in classrooms, because the more the students see the message, the more it stays in their memory. Prevention then becomes a lifestyle even when they go home after school,” said the director of the Rwanda Muslim Community (RMC) Ecole Secondaire Isamique de Gisenyi.
“Since corona started, we take turns to come and sell here so that the place is not crowded. The number of customers has declined very much, but we must follow the rules,” said 63-year-old Abizera, a shoe vendor at Kaningi centre.
The campaign is funded by the Government of Japan as part of the COVID-19 response and implemented in partnership with a local media organization, Easy and Possible, that operates Isana Radio at markets and bus stations.
Through funding from the United States Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), IOM is also constructing 66 durable handwashing stations for schools covering Mahama, Gihembe and Nyabisheke refugee camps. The handwashing stations are set to benefit more than 25,000 students and teachers.
To further curb the spread of COVID-19 within refugee camps, at least 120.000 washable masks were distributed to refugees, out of which 20,000 masks were produced by a women’s group in Mahama refugee camp to cushion against income losses as the pandemic continues to unfold.
For further information, contact IOM Rwanda Public Information Unit at email@example.com.