Motorised campaigns help fight COVID-19 in Lagos

The Lagos State Government, supported by UNICEF, has been reaching out to people in 20 Local Government Areas through a motorised campaign run by the National Orientation Agency

Iyabobola Ajibola, Communication for Development Consultant, UNICEF Nigeria
A child sneezing into the elbow
UNICEF Nigeria/2020
14 September 2020

There’s usually plenty of activity at the busy markets of the Mushin Local Government Area (LGA) in Lagos State. But on a recent day, there was something a bit unusual: a motorised train making announcements and distributing pamphlets.

It’s goal? To spread information about COVID-19 prevention.

Lagos State bears the highest burden of cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria, with more than one third of the total number of cases in Nigeria. The sprawling population – 634,000 in Mushin LGA alone -- and congested neighbourhoods in Lagos put residents at high risk for infection, making it all the more important to educate the public on the risks of close contact and how to behave safely.

Since early July, the Lagos State Government -- supported by UNICEF, with funding from the COVID-19 Basket Fund for Nigeria -- has been reaching out to people in 20 LGAs through a motorised campaign run by the National Orientation Agency. The train visits public places in both rural and semi-urban areas with large populations, promoting messages of protection against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Motorised campaign in Lagos to prevent the spread of COVID-19
UNICEF Nigeria/2020

In Mushin, the train is focusing on the Alamutu and Alasalatu markets, where hundreds congregate in close quarters. At Alamutu, the chairman of the market association, Mr. Sulaimon Agbaje, stresses that traders comply with protocols laid down by the Lagos government.

“The union has taken steps to ensure traders always wear their facemasks and wash hands from make-shift handwashing buckets placed at strategic points in the market,” he said.

At the Alasalatu meat market, there is also a desire for a safe environment. The trading union has made masks mandatory in the market, has a taskforce to ensure compliance, and an announcer has been deployed to remind the traders to wash their hands regularly and practice safe hygiene.

Eight-year-old student Damilare Olawale spends his days at his mother’s market shop while schools are closed. He watches women demonstrate how to cover their nose and mouth with a bent elbow when coughing and sneezing.

A boy demonstrating handwashing
UNICEF Nigeria/2020

I must wear my facemask, wash my hands with soap all the time after touching any objects, or use a hand sanitiser.

8-year-old Damilare Olawale, proud of what he has learned

The motorised train complements other efforts in Mushin LGA. For instance, in April the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital explained to community members of Waigbo section of Mushin how to wear facemasks, and also distributed palliatives.

The campaign has crucially drawn buy-in from leaders such as High Chief Avantola Avanyemi, the Baale of Waigbo, the traditional ruler of the community. The Baale has attended a series of sensitisation activities, and cheerfully demonstrated proper handwashing with soap.

”Always wash your hands with soap when you go out or return to your home, so as to protect yourself and your family against COVID-19 or other diseases,” he said.

With the motorised campaigns, the goal is that a visit to the market will bring important education, rather than the risk of infection.

 

The One UN Nigeria COVID-19 Basket Fund is a single COVID-19 financing and investment platform for diverse stakeholders (UN and other multilaterals, bilaterals, private sector, foundations, philanthropists) to channel financial support to ensure an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria. The COVID-19 Basket Fund is facilitated and implemented by the UN system in Nigeria, through a project management board made up of representatives of the Presidential Task Force on the COVID-19 Response, relevant government agencies, contributing donors and the UN system.