"As COVID-19 spreads, a tsunami of misinformation, hate, scapegoating and scare-mongering has been unleashed," warns Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General.
South Sudan is no exception to widespread myths and disingenuous information on the nature and transmission of this virus. Hence, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is doing everything it can to ensure that it raises awareness, dispels myths and engages communities across the country to sensitize them on key preventative measures approved by the World Health Organization on COVID-19.
In this regard, the UNMISS Field Office in Kuajok recently handed over 500 radio receivers with appropriate bandwidths to community members in Warrap as a means of making sure that people living in remote areas have access to verified and accurate information related to staying safe and healthy during the pandemic.
This distribution exercise is a joint initiative of the mission's Relief, Reintegration and Protection (RRP) and Communications and Public Information (CPI) sections from the UNMISS Kuajok Field Office. It covers some 35 communities spread across Tonj, Twic and Gogrial and includes traditional and religious leaders, mawajoots (cattle camp leaders), youth groups, women's representatives, healthcare providers, teachers, local administration representatives as well as members of South Sudanese police and military institutions.
Beneficiaries were appreciative of the mission's undertaking given that radio programmes and public service announcements are of critical value in this country where access to other audio-visual or digital means of communication is limited, not least due to the the widespread poverty and displacement caused by civil war in recent years. "Now that I have this radio, I will be able to get correct information about Coronavirus, and, most importantly, pass it to my family, friends and loved ones in the community so that, together, we can keep ourselves safe," said Adong Bol, a women's representative in the area.
The mission's efforts at magnifying access to verified health and safety updates for the people of Warrap was also recognized by Madut Bior who gave heartfelt thanks to the mission. "Many of us cannot afford to purchase radio sets. As a result, we were unable to keep abreast of the latest news and other information emanating from Juba. Now, thanks to UNMISS, we are looking forward to keeping up-to-date with the COVID-19 situation in South Sudan as well as the developments on the peace process," she said.
Like all other UNMISS endeavors to support the national-led COVID-19 response, this radio distribution drive is aimed at bolstering community engagement and ensuring the safety of the host populations the mission is mandated to serve across South Sudan.