Zim, UK universities partner to foster COVID- 19 innovations in IDPs
ZEGU Pro Vice-Chancellor Prof. Evelyn Garwe
By Edward Mukaro
INTERNALLY Displaced Persons (IDPs) living in Mandebvu (Lumumba) and parts of Epworth have praised efforts by the Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University (ZEGU) University of Zimbabwe (UZ), and the Womens University in Africa (WUA), University of Nottingham (UoN), University of Wolverhampton, (UoW) the in partnership with the National Age Network of Zimbabwe (NANZ), after the successful adaptation and installation of ZEGU COVID-19 innovations as well as related entrepreneurship training and transformative public health. The project was funded through the UKRI’s GCRF/Newton Fund Agile Response for COVID-19, resonating with the government’s re-engagement process and Africa’s quest for African solutions to Africa’s problems.
The IDPs project, ran for 18 months, a period which saw the communities of Mandebvu and Epworth getting training on various innovations such as practical skills, soap making, sewing and promotion of hygiene, maintenance of Covid-19 innovations, practices in the wake of the COVID- 19 pandemic that has wreaked havoc in marginalised communities across the globe, Zimbabwe included.
Speaking to the media, in Harare, Patience Chidzinzwa, a beneficiary of the project said the project-enhanced awareness of the dangers of COVID-19.
“My knowledge on COVID- 19 certainly improved because I got to know the benefits of being vaccinated against the Corona virus and also dispelling the myths surrounding the vaccine.
“Now I can teach my peers in the community where I come from and also help others in identifying the signs and symptoms of the pandemic,” said Chidzinwa.
Dr Julita Chideme-Maradzika of the UZ said the project was a success as a result of the combined skills of implementing partners and the cooperative communities at large.
“They (project donor) wanted to work with us as they wanted institutions with expertise including NANZ, WUA, ZEGU, UZ, UoN and UoW,” said Dr Maradzike.
She added that despite the project’s coming to an end communities’ capacity to deal with COVID-19 was strengthened.
Despite the measures put in place based on public health education as guided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) including hygiene measures, isolation, quarantine, social distancing, and the wearing of masks, IDPs are an economically disadvantaged and secluded population, with limited access to the critical public health information and resources necessary to comply with the recommended COVID-19 hygiene standards. Overcrowded conditions, access to clean running water, soap and sanitisers are some of the issues IDP communities face, compounded by a lengthy lockdown that has predisposed IDPs to economic hardships.
Hence, an adaptation of the recent low-cost COVID-19 innovations developed by ZEGU suit the bill in the IDPs context.
In an exclusive interview with The BusinessConnect newspaper, ZEGU Pro Vice-Chancellor Prof. Evelyn Garwe, who was also the IDPs project coordinator for Zimbabwe said: “ZEGU provided the COVID-19 innovations that formed the core of the project. These innovations included a full-body sanitization booth; a three-in-one wash station as well as a sodium chloride-based detergent formula,” she said.
Adapting existing innovations for protection against COVID- 19 appropriate for the context, developing additional ones, empowering communities through entrepreneurship, and transforming public health education around COVID-19 were among the project’s core mandates.