Across Sudan, community networks advocate for and lead local development. Experienced, equipped and energized, they’re tackling COVID-19.

 

For years, support from numerous donors has allowed UNDP Sudan to establish 150+ community management committees (CMCs), peace committees, natural resource groups, police networks, volunteer groups, and other similar organizations across 12 states to support community development in a variety of ways.

Drawing on support from a number of donors, facing COVID-19 they’re protecting health, supplying equipment to hospitals and other facilities, producing soap and sanitizer, raising awareness and ensuring communities are safeguarded.

Read more: Sudan’s community leaders turned COVID-19 fighters

 

Badr El-Din Abubakr: pharmacist and #COVID19 community fighter, White Nile

Roaming the streets of Juda in a megaphone-equipped car, volunteers like Badr take shifts spreading awareness and health messages across the city, and handing out soap, sanitizer, and masks, and posters.

With support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the efforts of Badr and others have impact.

“The benefit is widespread among youth,” he says. “I can guarantee 85 to 90% of them are now aware of the risks, what this disease is, and how to prevent it. I noticed that travelling from one area to another, the gatherings of women at home with neighbours and youth on the street have all been reduced.”

 

Abdel Nabi: schoolteacher and #COVID19 community fighter, White Nile

Schoolteacher Abdel Nabi is a #COVID19 community fighter, assisting South Sudanese refugees, displaced people, and others in Alagaya, White Nile, with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

Member of a local community group, Abdel volunteered distributing sanitizer and soap in busy areas and markets, while others raised COVID-19 awareness. Following their work, community views of COVID-19 changed. “After they learned that this is a serious infection, they started following health advice, reducing risks, and keeping track of news about the spread of the disease,” he said.

“I hope the awareness will continue while we prepare for the autumn season to plant sorghum and sesame, so we can do with more confidence.”

 

Sherhazad Ismail: volunteer and community #COVID19 fighter, Khartoum

Skepticism about #COVID19 in her community drove Sherhazad Ismail, a young woman in Khartoum's southern districts, to take part in Italian Development Cooperation-supported efforts to raise awareness, and prevent its spread.

“My feeling is that many people in my community don’t even believe in the existence of COVID-19”, she said. “I kept telling them, the fact that none of your own family members or the people you know have been infected so far is by no means evidence that the disease does not exist.”

The efforts of Sherhazad and other volunteers in her community have reached more than 60,000 people, with information or hygiene supplies, many who she says have begun to change their behaviour.

 

Hanan Idris: schoolteacher and community #COVID19 fighter, Khartoum

“In dealing with this situation, I believe prevention is better than the cure”, says Hanan Idris, a schoolteacher in Al-Yarmook in southern Khartoum.

As a member of one of the 150+ community networks established by UNDP across Sudan, with Italian Development Cooperation support, Hanan and her community have turned their efforts to managing distribution of health and hygiene supplies, and ensuring health advice is followed. From encouraging people to adhere to social distancing and curfews.

So far, more than 60,000 people in her community were safely provided with information or supplies door-to-door, and the result was immediately visible to Hanan. “I have noticed that the work we are doing is not useless. Movement on the street nearly disappeared”.

 

Suleiman Adam Omar: student and community #COVID19 fighter, Khartoum

The danger posed by COVID-19 in Sudan is immense. Seeking to reduce this risk and protect health, young community volunteers have mobilized. Equipped with sanitizer, masks, megaphones (for physically distant briefings), flyers and social media content, they are delivering essential supplies and advice.

One of the many youth fighting COVID-19 in their communities is Suleiman Adam Omar, a university student and local resistance committee member from Khartoum’s impoverished Mayo area.

Promoting awareness and distributing supplies with Italian Development Cooperation support, Suleiman stresses the impact of these efforts: “This work is important because it is a global outbreak… the behaviors have changed greatly in many recipients, and many young people have stopped gathering. My family and I only go out for important necessities.”

 

Afaf Khaleel: radio presenter and community #COVID19 fighter, West Kordofan

Radio presenter and #COVID19 community fighter Afaf Khaleel uses her skills to raise awareness, swapping a studio for a megaphone on the streets of Elfula in West Kordofan.

“Illiteracy is high”, in her community she says, so megaphones are the best way to spread the word, drawing on support from the Government of Japan.

“The message we successfully conveyed was that COVID-19 can be deadly,” she said, bringing positive impact and changing community attitudes.

Afaf’s efforts were part of a campaign that printed and distributed 2000 COVID-19 flyers and hundreds of bottles of sanitizers across the five main areas in Elfula.

 

Abdel Monim Muhammad: computer technician and community #COVID19 fighter, West Kordofan

“My job was focused on educating people about the seriousness of the disease,” said computer technician and #COVID19 community fighter Abdel Monim Muhammad in Eldibab, West Kordofan State.

A community volunteer, Abdel used vehicle-mounted loudspeakers to raise COVID-19 awareness in his community, while others distributed hundreds of bottles of hand sanitizer and soap.

“I was guiding them to get their information from credible sources, like the health ministry’s media platforms.” As a result, he said, people in the community increasingly began preventive measures like hand washing and wearing masks.

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