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Survey shows that rural communities highly exposed to Coronavirus

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By Mary Taruvinga


A RECENT report by a mining watchdog says Zimbabweans living in rural areas remained at high risk of contracting coronavirus as the majority of them were not adhering to recommended behaviour to try and stop the spread of the pandemic.

The report by the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) shows that livelihood patterns of some rural communities exposed them to a pandemic that has infected over a million and killed over 50 000 around the world.

CNRG has running projects in nine sites across Zimbabwe.

These are in areas such as Marange, Mutoko, Penhalonga, Hwange, Chivi, Bikita, Darwendale, Arda Transau and Lupane.

The places already have challenges owing to the influx of outsiders attracted by some mining activities within their respective localities.

Says the group in its report, “In Lupane, there has not been a change in movement patterns as people are still walking around to sustain their livelihoods.

“People are still going about buying groceries from the shops and fetching water from community boreholes.

“Grocery shops are open in Lupane and shop owners are not sanitising customers as they enter into the shops.”

CNRG said the community boreholes are high risk areas because they attract many people but were still not being sanitised.

The organisation however said there were some conscious community members who were using soap and a clean cloth to wipe pump handles although some community members could not afford soap.

The challenge of human-wildlife conflict continues and villagers are forced to go and guard their fields against elephants.

“This poses a risk to locals who have to walk in groups due to distances between the villages and the fields. However, they are trying to maintain social distance as advised by health officials.”

According to CNRG, there was limited awareness among community members because the government and health officials did not undertake community level campaigns.

There is limited communication network in Chivi and as such, social media has not been much helpful.

In Arda Transau, it is business as usual as people continue with their day to day lives.

Also, movement has not been reduced because of food and water challenges.

In addition, law enforcement agents have not been seen in the area.

“The nurses at Arda Transau Clinic are operating without protective clothing and this poses a risk to the community since they (community members) all depend on one clinic for primary health care.

“There have not been any awareness campaigns, whether by government officials or civil society organisations in Arda Transau area,” said CNRG.

Government last week imposed a 21-day national lockdown period to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The country enters Day-6 this Saturday amid strict enforcement of the stay-at-home campaign by police.