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IOM, NACOSEC in Covid-19 sensitisation campaign


Nthatuoa Koeshe

THE Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Lesotho has begun a Covid-19 awareness programme mainly targeting rural people in the country’s 10 districts.

The programme is being conducted in collaboration with the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC).

The programme kicked off in Quthing on Friday with IOM and NACOSEC officials holdings meetings with villagers to teach them on the importance of observing World Health Organisation (WHO) protocols on Covid-19. These include maintaining good hygiene, social distancing, wearing masks in public, avoiding large gatherings and cutting down on unnecessary travel.

The campaign is funded by UK Aid as part of its programme to assist stranded and vulnerable migrants in the southern African region. Apart from Lesotho, the programme is also running in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi.

NACOSEC and IOM officials travelled through villages in Quthing teaching villagers about the dangers of Covid-19 and the measures they must take to protect themselves.

Eriko Nishimura, the IOM Head of Office in Lesotho said it was imperative for villagers to realise that Covid-19 was real danger and they had to take proactive steps to protect themselves and their families.

She said they targeted Quthing because it has porous borders which were also likely to be used by undocumented travellers returning home from South Africa in large numbers for the Easter holidays in April. The campaign is also expected to cover the Qacha’s Nek and Mohale’s Hoek before being rolled out to the remaining districts.

Lesotho usually experiences high volumes of traffic to and from South Africa during holidays. The high number of undocumented travellers during the last festive season was particularly blamed for the spike in Covid-19 cases which breached the 10 000 mark last week.

As of yesterday, NACOSEC said Lesotho had recorded a cumulative 10 461 infections and 285 deaths.

This is a massive, exponential increase from the 2137 infections and 44 deaths recorded on 1 December 2020 before the start of the festive season.

With the Easter holidays just around the corner, Ms Nishimura said it was important to conscientise the public about the need to adhere to Covid-19 protocols.

“We saw how the infections rose last December when many people crossed the borders and since Easter is approaching and more people will travel, it is important that they know how to protect themselves,” Ms Nishimura said.

Ms Nishimura said IOM has been working closely with Ministry of Social Development and other government departments in identifying vulnerable returnees and their family members. They are also targeting vulnerable youths in the Mohale’s Hoek, Quthing and Qacha’s Nek districts providing them with skills to start projects to sustain themselves.

On his part, NACOSEC Risk Communications Manager, Baroane Phenethi, said although the current project they had plans to take the project to all 10 districts “to improve access to Covid-19 information particularly for rural villagers”.

“At the moment, we have to prioritise remote areas where people do not easily access information,” Mr Phenethi said.

He said that the campaign has exposed some villagers’ ignorance and negligence when dealing with Covid-19.

“This is a matter of ignorance and negligence. People do not think they are vulnerable to Covid-19,” Mr Phenethi said.


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