The implementation of government measures to prevent the risks of contamination and spread of the disease by the coronavirus, Covid-19, is certainly well received, but there are pockets of resistance or even reluctance to apply them in urban areas. At the same time, in rural areas, some populations do not yet have sufficient information about the disease and therefore cannot keep abreast of the issues and challenges of this pandemic.
The dynamics of the pandemic is of course slow in Cameroon and the scourge hits 8 out of the 10 regions in Cameroon by 23 April 2020. Only the regions of North and Far North Cameroon are spared. The diffuse information flow circulates fakes news or information without verifiable sources and not very credible.
World Dynamics of Young People (WDYP) aligns its intervention with the approach of the Cameroonian government which structures the response against this scourge around 4 strategic axes (1) the active and early search of generalised testing cases ; (2) the qualitative handling of cases with capacity extension ; (3) social regulation to prevent spread ; (4) governance and accountability. In line with this, WDYP has chosen to work on (3) social regulation to prevent the spread and (4) governance and accountability with a view to mobilizing messages to contribute to the national strategy to fight the pandemic.
WDYP’s communication line is based on responsibility and solidarity to save lives. This orientation allows us to communicate on this scourge on a value chain that covers the dimensions of precaution, prevention, cure and the effects/impacts of the pandemic in the lives of individuals and their communities. The strategy developed in a participatory manner made it possible to develop various communication tools and materials based on messages adapted to the national context with a focus on the communal level.
WDYP has taken action to make a citizen and voluntary contribution to the government’s response to the risks of contamination and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The deployment in the field among the target groups and their communities made it possible to raise awareness amongst the populations to participate actively in the fight against the expansion of Covid-19.
Six of Cameroon’s ten regions have hosted WDYP’s itinerant caravan. Central Cameroon (Yaoundé 6th, Ngoumou, Bikok and Eseka), East Cameroon (Bélabo), Adamawa (Meiganga, Ngaoundal and Tibati), South Cameroon (Ebolowa 2nd), West Cameroon (Bamboutos) and Far North Cameroon (Maroua 1st, 2nd and 3rd). For each stop, the objective was to strengthen the capacity of populations and communities to participate actively in the fight against Covid-19. More specifically, it was a question of making the populations and communities aware of the preventive actions and measures to be taken in order not to be contaminated with or propagate Covid-19, and then to assess the adherence of the populations and communities to the governmental measures.
With this in mind, the teams collected the perceptions of the population on the awareness raising campaign; documented the contacts of people who could act as intermediaries for the dissemination of credible messages, including the behaviour of the population with regard to the applicability of and compliance with government measures; collected and documented information on factors of resistance or reluctance to barrier measures.
This mobilization is the implementation of an organizational strategy developed over a three-week period with the contribution of the Civil Peace Service (CPS) programme and the support of Mesen met een Missie (MM). This strategy has been primarily implemented in the communities where WDYP usually works. According to the opinion of the Executive Secretary, who personally steered these actions, “one must always be at the side of one’s target groups insofar as working for social or behavioural transformation requires a multi-axial inclusive logic. Also, we must not forget, as the Anglo-Saxon say, a friend in need is a friend indeed, meaning that it is in misfortune that one gets to know one’s true friends. If we are interested in the fate of communities, we must do so thoroughly. Covid-19 presents a situation that deserves that local rural communities be accompanied with credible information, tools and advice to enable them to save their lives. The solidarity imposed by this pandemic goes beyond material and money to require the manifestation of love and empathy. This is what we thought we were offering.”
Waiting for a full evaluation of this mobilization, WDYP can be pleased to have contributed to the reduction of the expansion of Covid-19 in Cameroon. In the target communities, no cases of contamination have been recorded.