By Amb. Penpusher Sesay
As the fight against the novel corona virus continues relentlessly in the country, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr, who played a pivotal role in the fight against the Ebola scourge in the country few years ago has again drawn from the plethora of experiences and lessons learnt to put the Freetown Municipality at a margin of safety as Sierra Leoneans continue to grapple with this deadly scourge that has adversely stagnated socio-economic activities and thus causing huge setbacks.
Mayor Aki-Sawyerr, having realised that the Municipality had been the epicentre for the virus, took retrospective stock and aptly as well as timely applied the Ebola localization technique which to a very large extent has brought considerable impact in terms of acceptance by Freetonians at Ward level to adhere to the COVID-19 health measures for the past months.
Owing to her firm belief in localization, particularly in containing the coronavirus outbreak of such magnitude, the pragmatic and restless Mayor, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, has succeeded in setting up community outreach and leadership teams in all the 48 demarcated Wards within her Municipality that are charged with the responsibilities of embarking on robust Covid-19 Community Engagements and sensitization.
The team ,which comprises ten influential members in each Ward in their agile mood, has been committed in raising awareness on the preventive measures against COVID-19 by holding focus group discussions, undertaking door -to-door sensitization, and also embarking on community outreach activities targeting community stakeholders schools, market places, ataya bases, churches, mosques, and other high risk places for almost a couple of months now.
Also, the team of ten in each of the 48 Wards are bisected into two groups and are made up of grassroots representatives, together with a Coordinator and Supervisor for each Ward.
The Leadership Team comprises the following: a Religious Leader, Community Chief, Youth Leader, Mammy Queen and the Ward Councillor.
On the other hand, the Outreach team comprises the Ward Secretary, Ward Committee member and three youth influencers, making a total of ten members per Ward.
These ten community mobilizers have been so assertive in ensuring that locals comply to the preventive measures of COVID-19, and the measures set aside by NaCOVERC and the Government by a means of educating them about the virus, distributing face masks, engaging community stakeholders on focus group discussions, responding and addressing to issues relating to the fight against the virus in all the 48 Wards.
It is interesting to note that these volunteers have been and still receiving weekly stipends to ensure effectiveness, consistency and efficiency in discharging their tasks.
Freetonians have attested to the fact that the localization of the fight by Her Worship- Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr for the past months has actualized a geometric decrease in the number of infected cases in the capital city.
The corona virus community engagement, championed by the Freetown City Council has created much dividends in terms of adherence, compliance, reporting of suspected cases, taking ownership and the establishment of community bye laws which to a very large extent has put an halt to the fast pace of transmission of the virus for the past two months in the Freetown municipality according to views expressed by many Freetonians across the length and breadth of the capital city.