Empowering communities to prevent COVID-19

Peter Kimemia was selected by local community health workers to attend a training session on COVID-19. Although he was involved in youth activities in his hometown of Molo, Nakuru County, this was the first time for him to attend a formal training.

He joined 23 other youth group leaders at the Molo Polytechnic for the training organized by USAID’s Afya Uzazi and the Nakuru County Department of Health to educate young people on COVID-19 prevention to empower them play a role to check its spread.

During the sessions, the local Public Health Officer Joram Angote led lively discussions to pass on key messages about COVID-19 and address some of the fears the young people expressed about the disease and how it was affecting their lives, including relationships with their peers.

Peter and his peers gained accurate information on COVID-19 they could pass on their families and friends.

Peter says: “I learnt a lot about COVID-19 and how to protect myself from the disease and other dangers like drug abuse.  I realized that we as young people can do a lot to help our communities. You don’t have to be paid for everything.”

Afya Uzazi program organized health outreach activities across Nakuru County to educate community leaders on the pandemic counter rumours and help mitigate its effects, including increasing cases of gender-based violence. The sessions also over the basic of home-based care and how to help address stigma against people who have recovered from COVID-19 and their families.

When schools opened, the education sessions were extended to reach teachers and students in schools across all the 11 sub-counties of Nakuru.

Boda boda taxi rider Susan Mumbi benefited from training on COVID-19.

Beneficiaries of the training included community health volunteers, village elders, religious leaders, local administrators, water, sanitation and hygiene champions, community-based organization representatives as well as leaders of boda boda (motorcycle taxi) and garbage collection associations.

The training has helped to change attitudes and encourage collective action against COVID-19:  

“I used to mock people whenever they washed hands with soap to prevent COVID-19 because I thought the disease only affects elderly people, but I now understand that anyone can be affected,” Joseph Wangonya, a boda boda association manager.

Susan Mumbi, leader of a boda boda group, said rumours about COVID-19 were rife among riders. “We have benefited a lot from the training on how we can protect ourselves from COVID-19 and other diseases.”