GOAL to adopt pioneering community engagement approach to help fight spread of COVID-19

GOAL to adopt pioneering community engagement approach to help fight spread of COVID-19

GOAL staff distributing hand washing barrels as part of the agencies COVID-19 response in Aysaita refugee camp in Afar, northeastern Ethiopia. © GOAL

(reliefweb)—Irish humanitarian aid agency, GOAL, is to use the Community-Led Action (CLA) approach it successfully adopted during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014 in its response to the spread of COVID-19.

The agency said today (Monday) it has rolled out phase one of its COVID-19 response in its 13 countries of operation, and that community engagement is central to its strategy to minimize the spread of the virus in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

The Community-Led Action approach will see GOAL working with communities developing action plans at local level to isolate, shield those most at risk, and manage cases of infection. This will involve offering practical household hygiene guidance and supporting communities to plan controlling their movements and still be able to sustain their daily income.

In addition to the CLA approach GOAL will draw on its experience of Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in health-care settings, and onward community transmission.

During the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, GOAL supported Government’s in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia in implementing Infection Prevention and Control in over 100 primary and secondary health facilities.

GOAL’s Deputy CEO, Mary Van Lieshout, who is leading the agencies COVID-19 Task Force, said today: “GOAL will draw on its extensive experience of emergency health work and infectious disease preparedness around the world, but in particular its response to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia in 2014.”

  • “This virus has rapidly spread from East to West and is likely to overwhelm weak or limited healthcare systems. The key to containing this problem is education on prevention and community engagement, and helping to sustain incomes. We need to act now to help vulnerable communities prepare.”*

She said the virus is already confirmed in 12 of the 13 countries where GOAL works.

“As the pandemic spikes in the coming weeks and months, it will become much more difficult to reach the affected areas and communities and critically needed supplies will become more difficult to secure. We are responding as quickly as possible to help prepare the most vulnerable people for the coming outbreak. Our response plans will be implemented in partnership with Governments and Agencies as we partner for maximum impact and we will adapt according to needs as they emerge.“

GOAL’s phase 1 COVID-19 response will involve:

  • Distributing COVID-19 awareness and prevention information and hygiene kits in Syria and Iraq, where it is also implementing social behavior change interventions.
  • Supporting infectious disease control activities and access to water in high-risk communities and health facilities in Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe.
  • Re-purposing existing emergency projects to support key public awareness messages, including radio campaigns, in Iraq, Niger, Uganda, Malawi, Honduras, and Zimbabwe.
  • Supporting Community Led Action to empower communities to take their own actions to protect their community in Sierra Leone, Niger, Ethiopia, Uganda, Malawi, South Sudan, Sudan and Honduras.
  • Providing equipment and supplies and supporting temporary isolation in health facilities in Sierra Leone:

GOAL’s first phase response in Iraq, Honduras, Niger, Malawi and Uganda is supported by Irish Aid under the Emergency Response Fund Scheme.