Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa, Scouts as is their nature sprang into action with numerous initiatives aimed at helping their communities to cope with the effects of the disease. The situation was further compounded by the preventive health measures announced by the World Health Organization (WHO) and many national governments among them, social distancing and stay home directives. These measures have limited physical interaction and affected Scouts’ ability to meet and undertake their Scout activities as they would usually do.
Being innovative and with the desire to always do good no matter the circumstances, many National Scout Organizations (NSOs) and Scout groups have launched community-level COVID-19 response initiatives by actively helping the authorities and those in the frontline; launching awareness campaigns; packaging and distributing soap, sanitizers and face masks; setting up community handwashing points; shopping and running errands for disadvantaged people; distributing foodstuffs to needy populations among others. Here we highlight some of the actions being implemented by Scouts in various countries across the Africa region:
Botswana: Scouts in the city of Francistown, with the aid of registered Nurse Rabanyu Gagosepe, went out to bus parks and taxi ranks teaching people about COVID-19 preventive measures and proper ways of handwashing or sanitizing using posters designed by the Ministry of Health. In the capital Gaborone, the Scouts partnered with a local radio station to deliver awareness and community resilience messages in the native Tswana language.
Cape Verde: Scouts teamed up with the Red Cross to help the most disadvantaged families cope with this difficult period by supplying them with relief items.
Cote d’Ivoire: Scouts from the different associations that make up the NSO have been involved in different awareness initiatives including online and offline sensitization campaigns within their communities. Watch video at https://web.facebook.com/ScoutUnioniste/videos/162913634788119
Democratic Republic of Congo: The NSO prepared and disseminated guidelines on how Scouts can contribute in responding to the spread of COVID-19. They are involving Rover Scouts and adult volunteers in community response actions including support to local health services, information and awareness campaigns on health and safety measures. Rover Scouts also support street children with temporary shelters and food.
Gambia: Scouts from the 3rd Kombo Scout Group are creating awareness to help communities cope with the impacts of COVID-19 and adapt to staying at home to enable the country overcome the pandemic.
Ghana: Scouts of the Ashanti region teamed up with KFC Ghana to provide hot meals and water to vulnerable and needy families, putting a smile on their faces. As they did so, the Scouts expressed their solidarity and reminded people to continue to observe the precautionary measures of social distancing, frequent washing of hands or use of hand sanitizers.
Kenya: The NSO launched the Kenya Scouts COVID-19 Social Media Campaign dubbed #ScoutsStoppingCoronavirus to join government efforts to create awareness on how to stop the spread of the COVID-19; with emphasis on hand hygiene, social distancing and free distribution of home-made soaps and sanitizers especially in densely populated areas. In Nyeri the Scouts were part of the county government’s initiative to involve youth in packaging and distributing free sanitizers to vulnerable members of the community besides their awareness raising activities that caught the eye of national broadcasters. In Mombasa Scouts partnered with a local business to distribute free sanitizers, while in the neighbouring Kilifi they helped with packaging government relief food for distribution to vulnerable community members. Another group is also supporting vulnerable families through the provision of essential food packages that include maize flour, wheat flour, cooking oil, sugar, a bar soap, tissue, sanitary towel and a face mask. The project called “lend a helping hand” is using a crowdfunding to support the initiative that targets 100 families. Further away in Dadaab Refugee Camp, apart from joining the JOTI Special Edition to witness signing of global partnership between UNHCR and World Scouting, Scouts conducted sensitization activities among their families and neighborhoods in the refugee camps. The Scout leaders are translating and disseminating messages, alerts and updates on COVID-19 from Kenya's Ministry of Health into Somali language for understanding by communities living in the camp. Working in pairs, the Scouts are reinforcing the social distance, proper hand washing techniques and mapping out households whose members recently traveled from Somalia in a bid to reduce the risk of infection within Dadaab as a preventative measure. More at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s76lSWCINRs, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVpkiOJAbD8,
Malawi: When the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the country, the NSO designed and implemented an awareness campaign in the heart of Lilongwe city to complement government efforts. Scouts took to the streets with messages about COVID-19. Having discovered that many people in the rural areas are either not aware of or have many misconceptions about the disease, the Scouts are continuing the campaign through their zonal structures to bring awareness to the masses in the villages across the country.
Mali: Scouts are using Mainstream media to sensitize the population on preventive messaging and handwashing campaigns in partnership with local media, volunteer and civil society organizations under the banner of ‘Together Against COVID-19’. The Scouts are also producing and distributing home-made masks. Watch videos at https://web.facebook.com/pg/Scouts-Musulmans-du-Mali-1021411907972314/videos
Mauritius: The NSO launched a Scouts Handwashing Challenge urging Scouts to make a video of them washing their hands while reciting the Scout promise or singing their favorite Scout song. This was aimed at promoting proper handwashing techniques and Scouting among the general public. Watch videos at https://web.facebook.com/mauritiusscouts/videos
Mozambique: Scouts are teaching communities, especially old people, how to protect themselves from the COVID-19. The Scouts further conduct social medial campaigns on COVID19 and how to make masks from available material. In partnership with UNICEF, the Scouts are also producing hand sanitizers and distributing to the public.
Namibia: Scouts are spreading messages of love and solidarity encouraging people to stay home and reminding Scouts to be prepared to serve their communities during these difficult times - Be Prepared, Stay Prepared!
Niger: As part of the prevention of COVID-19, the Scouts of Niger distributed handwashing kits and protective face masks to women groups in the neighbourhoods of Liboré, Saga, Kirkissoy, Saguia and Koiara Tegui; followed by awareness-raising activities on the COVID-19 preventive measures.
Nigeria: The NSO produced and disseminated a video to provide guidance to Scouts and members of the general public on some practices they can adopt to protect themselves and others from contracting or spreading the COVID-19 disease.
Rwanda: The NSO is running online and offline awareness campaigns sensitizing communities on the need for social distancing by staying home, physical and mental wellbeing, COVID-19 preventive practices like handwashing and avoiding handshakes and using cashless payments.
Senegal: Scouts in partnership with the Mayor’s Office, health districts and other stakeholders are collaborating and helping to set up local committees involving all stakeholders in response to the epidemic. They also took it upon themselves to install handwashing points in one of the country’s largest markets. The Scouts also support government communication channels with generating effective messaging that resonate with young people and conducting online broadcasting of the messages.
Seychelles: As part of their reaching out programme, Scouts are assisting the local government department in sorting out and preparing donations for distribution to the most needy in the communities.
South Africa: The NSO created a page where they share information that could be of assistance in educating and protecting its volunteers and the children, youth and communities they serve. The Rover Scouts are running errands and doing shopping for people who are not able to go out due to various vulnerabilities and delivering at their doorsteps. With the closing of schools, other Rover Scouts are also helping children with their academic work. The Cub Scouts are also make appreciation “Thank You” cards to show their gratitude to the people in frontline fighting COVID19.
South Sudan: Scouts are helping to combat fake news about COVID-19 by disseminating factual information from the Ministry of Health and encouraging people to follow the stipulated preventive measures.
Tanzania: The NSO’s national communication team run an online campaign sensitizing the masses on how to keep themselves safe from COVID-19 in the local Swahili language. Watch Video at https://web.facebook.com/TanzaniaScouts/videos/641714233063756
Togo: Scouts of Togo are raising awareness among the population against COVID-19 by explaining how the disease in transmitted and how to prevent it in order to combat misinformation. They also making and distributing free face masks to the population to help them protect themselves against disease.
Zambia: Scouts in some districts of Zambia joined the medical experts, public health workers and local councils to help sensitize the masses on how to avoid contracting or spreading COVID-19 disease. In Kalulushi, they clean markets and educate the vendors and shoppers. In Livingstone they stage sensitization campaigns at markets and bus stations including helping the trackers at their isolation point in the district. In the capital, Lusaka, have embarked on placing awareness posters to alert members of the community on the virus and preventative measures, as well as distributed soap donated by the city’s Mayor. The activities have been covered on both radio and TV stations signaling the importance of Scouting in the country especially at a time like this.
Scouting From Home Programmes
Many NSOs have also established Scouting from Home Programmes to enable their Scouts to continue with the activities from the comfort of their homes. Notably, the NSOs of South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritius and Namibia have put in place programmes that are enabling adult volunteers to continue their support for Scouts remotely. Here is a non-exhaustive list of some of the programmes developed by NSOs so far:
Democratic Republic of Congo: The NSO’s Scouting at Home Programme encourages and offers activities that Scouts can do at home, alone or with family members. In addition, the Scouting Online component promotes the online exchanges between Scouts in the country and their counterparts worldwide as well as activities they can do using mobile phones, phonies, computers, tablets, etc. More at: https://fesco.odoo.com/en_GB/programmes-de-riposte
Mauritius: The NSO produced a lot of video resources showcasing Scouting activities from home and encouraging talent and skills development among young people in the areas of art, music, dance, cooking among others. Watch videos at https://web.facebook.com/pg/mauritiusscouts/videos/?ref=page_internal
Namibia: The NSO has developed Youth Programme challenges for different age sections and shared with NSOs within the Southern Africa zone to support their Scouting from home activities.
South Africa: The NSO has developed an online space - Scouting from home, where Scouts and their Leaders can find resources and ideas to run programmes that Meerkats, Cubs, Scouts and Rovers can do from their home. The NSO has urged their membership to be creative and add their own ideas and programmes to the list hat other groups can adapt and use as much as possible. Some Scout groups have held online meetings and events. More at: https://scoutwiki.scouts.org.za/index.php?title=Scouting_from_home
Zambia: Some Scout groups are conducting their troop meetings online in what is turning out to be a unique and interesting way for local Scouts to connect virtually and still be productive.
To support Scouts to further enhance these efforts, World Scouting launched on 4th April 2020 a Scouts Emergency Response Fund to COVID-19. Scouts worldwide can access this fund for safe-to-do community level interventions. This fund will provide financial support for Scouts to deliver COVID-19 response projects where all fund donated will be channeled directly to support National Scout Organizations. To know more about the fund, visit www.donate.scout.org.
To augment this fund, the Africa Scout Foundation has also announced the launch of the Africa Scout Foundation Youth Fund to help Scouts with implementation of COVID-19 response initiatives. More information on how Scouts can access this fund will be made available soon. To learn more about the foundation, visit www.africascoutfoundation.org.
While delivering the projects, Scouts are urged to fully adhere to the local health guidelines and to support the local and national healthcare systems. Despite the huge challenge posed by the pandemic, Scouts have continued to exhibit their unwavering spirit of solidarity, community service, global citizenship and creativity that has become more necessary more than ever before. For these young people and adult volunteers, Scouting and doing good never stops.