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Coronavirus in Nigeria: Seven Ways NGOs (or You) Can Address the Virus

Coronavirus in Nigeria: Seven Ways NGOs (or You) Can Address the Virus

Coronavirus in Nigeria: Seven Ways NGOs (or You) Can Address the Virus

 

 

By Efua Elens-Edeh
Social Impact Consulting

The dreaded Coronavirus has finally entered Nigeria.  We watched with horror as the virus has ravished thousands of lives in Wuhan China.  According the World Health Organization, the Coronavirus was first reported in Wuhan, China December 31, 2019.  We watched how the Chinese government built a large hospital to address the outbreak in less than 10 days.  According to the New York Times, the virus traveled to various countries around the world such as Middle East, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, USA, UK, Thailand, Philippines and India.  Up to date, 53 countries have reported cases of the viral infection. As we continued to watch on social media how their various Centers for Disease and Control have addressed these deadly issues to protect their citizens and residents.  Now it has entered the shores of Nigeria, February 28, 2019 by an Italian Business man who came into Lagos.  So far, the Federal Ministry of Health has issued a press statement addressing this viral global epidemic.

The Civic Space has ensured its independence in the political process giving it room to provide criticism of government in its policies and implementation.  At this time, collaboration is vital if we want to contain this virus from spreading.  This is not the time to fight the government so please put up your boxing gloves for now.  Here are 7 ways NGOs can address the Coronavirus in Nigeria.

1. Sensitize your Base
Most nonprofits have thousands of emails in their database.  Ensure you send out an email educating them about the spread of Coronavirus.  There is a lot of information flooding social media, it is important to provide authentic information concerning the virus and its effects on society.  They will appreciate that your organization cares about their health and safety.  If your base includes marginalized communities, engage in sensitization campaigns to conduct awareness of the Coronavirus.  This further adds value when you are reaching government, bi- and multi-lateral agencies when you want to address this epidemic.

2. Find out ways you can help

There are communities that are hard to reach in Nigeria and some NGOs have conducted sensitization campaigns on various local issues in those areas.  Conduct a stakeholder analysis of the strength of your reach as an organization.  Ensure you conduct a power mapping exercise to list the key opinion leaders who are working on these issues.  Come with solutions not recommendations because these agencies are on the go to contain this virus.  If there are financial constraints, as you reach out the respective agencies, request for funding or ensure you are reimbursed following these activities.

Lagos University Teaching Hospital. The location of the identified individual infected with the Coronavirus in Nigeria is quarantined and treated.

3. Collaborate with Health-Focused

NGOs/Primary Health Centers to Spread the word in Marginalized Communities

I am an advocate of not going into mission-creep.  However, we are dealing with human lives and we can add value from our various thematic areas.  Since you have come up with how you can help, this can add value to the collaborative relationship with Healthcare NGOs or Health Centers.  For example, if the organization has relationships in Lagos and Ogun State and your organization has reach in Northern Nigeria, this expands the reach of sensitization and outreach in marginalized communities.

4. Conduct Advocacy to your local, State and Federal Representatives

This is the time to reach out to your local, state and Federal Representatives with your suggestions, and what you have already done as an organization and what is needed to further contain the virus.  If there are health NGOs that need to reach these representatives and do not have those relationships, it is important to make the introduction and conduct these advocacy visits or phone calls based on the time frame to contain the outbreak.

5. Involve the Corporate Sector

At this time, the Corporate sector is up in arms regarding this epidemic.  It would affect the way they conduct business which ultimately determines their bottom line.  When you want to conduct awareness campaigns, approach them to donate hand sanitizers and many other health related products that would prevent the further spread of the disease.  If it is in communities they are interested in, please oblige to their request because it furthers your reach.  This makes the corporations look proactive in addressing a health crisis that affects where they conduct business.

Some of the major sectors you can address is the banking, telecommunications, Oil and Gas, and health sector.  These corporations would work with your Nonprofit in addressing this health issue in the best way they can.  Many may ignore your attempt to reach them but be persistent and reach the decision makers to engage in a mutually beneficial collaboration.

6. Work with Influencers

Influencers are vital in spreading the word about the Coronavirus.  Typical examples of them in Nigeria are actors and recording artists.  I follow a few of them on Instagram and they are caring and have the burden for a better Nigeria.  For example, Tuface Idibia works on Peaceful Elections in Nigeria and engages with political candidates to curb electoral violence.  Recently Ayo Makun (AY) collaborated with KNOSK Schools on a fundraising drive to educate students in marginalized communities.  Some of them are Ambassadors to brands that promote good health for example, Funke Akindele’s collaboration with Dettol.

If these influencers are too busy and occupied with other priorities, you can work with micro-influencers who have 100k followers or less.  They may be more available to engage in an awareness campaign to curb the Coronavirus.

7. Involve Faith Based Institutions

The faith-based institutions are a core of the Nigerian society.  NGOs need to reach out to Churches and mosques around the country to discuss the Coronavirus in Nigeria.  These institutions address millions of Nigerians on Fridays and Sundays.  Ensure your organization partner with these religious institutions so they are able to conduct awareness either during their announcement or create an event when the details of the virus are addressed.

Though this is part of stakeholder mapping exercise and religious leaders would be vital in the sensitization process, this is important to bring up because of how vital their involvement is to curb Coronavirus in Nigeria.

Coronavirus in Nigeria is a serious issue and our lives are at stake.  I encourage the Civic space to stand up and be counted as part of national development.  This is the time to collaborate with the Nigerian Government.  We cannot shout from the sidelines and frustrate the process of curtailing Coronavirus in Nigeria.  Connected Development started a movement #followthemoney which should be the only issue that should be addressed by Civil Society in curtailing the epidemic.  When funding is allocated to address the epidemic, we as citizens can monitor how it is being allocated and disbursed.  Let us hold hands and put our differences aside, and eliminate coronavirus in Nigeria like we did with Ebola.

are a core of the Nigerian society.  NGOs need to reach out to Churches and mosques around the country to discuss the Coronavirus in Nigeria.  These institutions address millions of Nigerians on Fridays and Sundays.  Ensure your organization partner with these religious institutions so they are able to conduct awareness either during their announcement or create an event when the details of the virus are addressed.

Though this is part of stakeholder mapping exercise and religious leaders would be vital in the sensitization process, this is important to bring up because of how vital their involvement is to curb Coronavirus in Nigeria.

Coronavirus in Nigeria is a serious issue and our lives are at stake.  I encourage the Civic space to stand up and be counted as part of national development.  This is the time to collaborate with the Nigerian Government.  We cannot shout from the sidelines and frustrate the process of curtailing Coronavirus in Nigeria.  Connected Development started a movement #followthemoney which should be the only issue that should be addressed by Civil Society in curtailing the epidemic.  When funding is allocated to address the epidemic, we as citizens can monitor how it is being allocated and disbursed.  Let us hold hands and put our differences aside, and eliminate coronavirus in Nigeria like we did with Ebola.

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