#COVIDPositiveStories – Kenneth Okonkwo

Kenneth Okonkwo is a Sustainable Agriculture Practice expert by Training and the Founder of IrriTech Nigeria Limited. This is his #COVIDPositiveStory.

The Eko Covid-19 Prevention Hygiene Project was initiated to help reduce the spread and transmission of COVID-19 in Lagos State, being the epicentre of the virus in Nigeria. This was done through the house to house distribution of free healthcare materials such as face masks, Hand sanitizers, Hand gloves, Disinfectants and soaps, across underserved communities in Lagos state. with support from the Pollination Project USA.

Having visited the slums in Lagos state, we observed that people living in these areas are not really doing their best to curtail the spread of this virus and this was self-evident in the way many of them still go about their daily businesses, social and spiritual activities without any regard for social distancing. It is even said that some still believe that the whole COVID-19 situation is nothing but a ruse and an attempt by the government to embezzle money. Nonetheless, if we are going to stand a chance against the spread of the virus in these fragile areas, it is very important to ensure that they have the means to protect themselves (including self-isolation in case of contact with a person infected with COVID-19) and ensuring access to safe water, soaps, hand sanitizers and face masks while also educating them about the virus, it’s protective measures (such as washing their hands often) and this was the reason we initiated this project.

We partnered with Dr Paul Okoye of SmartCareNg and Pharmacist Kingsley Chizoba of Pharmakings Nig. Ltd. to implement this project. These two Healthcare experts conducted brief hygiene training sessions at each household; they sensitized them about the virus and addressed safe water behavioural habits and any misinformation arising from Covid-19.

We distributed 5,000 face masks, 5,000 hand gloves, 500 Sanitizers, 200 disinfectants and 2,000 soaps in Casco, Agboju and Moradeyo communities in Amuwo Odofin, and also in Ijegun Community in Alimosho LGA over a period of one week starting from Monday, May 11th to Saturday, May 15, 2020, reaching 3,000 households and directly impacting over 5,000 people and indirectly impacting over 10,000 people.

The beneficiaries, mostly women, expressed their happiness on receiving these protective healthcare materials which would help them protect their families as they have no money to purchase them.
For sustainability, We hope to continue the project in other communities and also embark on a massive grassroots campaign and advocacy leveraging various local media outlets such as radio stations, televisions, newspapers, use of flyers and community town criers and volunteers to continue educating and providing relevant information to the people about the virus, how they can protect themselves against it, various health/hygiene practices to keep and how they can contact government officials if anyone is infected.

Through this project, I learned the importance of gatekeepers in community outreach. With the help of Ibrahim, a volunteer from Ijegun community, we were able to successfully navigate from one household to another in the community without any challenges of overcrowding. The government needs to put in place adequate infrastructure and follow up mechanisms to ensure the dissemination of appropriate information in rural communities.

My advice to my fellow youth is this; The survival, growth and prosperity of our Nation and Continent is our sole responsibility. Take a bold step and be the source of the change you desire.