Since March 2020 over 40 000 Zimbabweans have returned to the country following strict measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. Migrants are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and it is for this reason that the International Organization for Migration (IOM) with funding support from the Embassy of Sweden has continued to support the government in strengthening core capacities for public health measures at points of entry (PoEs) and surrounding communities.
The intervention focuses on building the capacity of frontline staff in the areas of effective coordination, preparedness, and response measures and providing access to basic services for both migrants.
With the Embassy of Sweden’s support, IOM has helped to improve infrastructure at PoEs, including the establishment of isolation tents to prevent further transmission of COVID-19. This has been complemented with the provision of sufficient and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and disinfection chemicals for the common areas. PoEs have been supplied with water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services which include handwashing facilities that are used by thousands of frontline staff and migrants every week.
As migrant entry numbers increase with borders reopening, the response widened to target border districts and high migrant hosting communities through Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE). The intervention raised awareness of COVID-19 and what communities can do to halt it’s spread. RCCE included health promotion roadshows, radio and bulk text community engagement campaigns and billboards. The roadshows were held in Beitbridge, Nyamapanda, Mutare, Chimanimani, Chipinge, Bulawayo, Plumtree, Tsholotsho, Lupane, Gwanda and Masvingo, reaching over 10 000 migrants and their host communities.
IOM Zimbabwe Chief of Mission Mario Lito Malanca said migrants and other mobile populations have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and interventions must have migrants and their concerns at the centre. “We are grateful for the multitude of ways in which the Embassy of Sweden has supported Zimbabwe to achieve the key strategic priorities of COVID-19 response for migrants and at points of entry. As more migrants return to Zimbabwe, partnerships and coordination will be critical to mitigating the impact of the pandemic in the short and long term.” Mr. Malanca said.