In late March, The Hunger Project (THP) started a decentralised, community-powered initiative led by volunteers to build "coronavirus-resilient villages" across the country. It helped keep infection and mortality rates relatively low in those villages, speakers said at a webinar today.
The campaign is currently active in about one and a half thousand villages and several thousand volunteers are involved in the initiative, said Badiul Alam Majumdar, Bangladesh country director of THP.
"The volunteers have informed about three million people about the virus and, to prevent misinformation and community transmission, they have conducted about five thousand campaigns with the help of imams and other influential people of the society," Badiul said.
Through collecting money, food and other items worth around Tk4 crore, the volunteers have helped about one lakh families, he added.
According to the webinar, Brac is going to start a pilot project in early September with its funds to tackle Covid-19 in rural Gazipur. In addition to forming Community Support Teams (CST) in two upazilas, a strong community network will be created.
A Community Corona Prevention Committee has been formed in each village. Their responsibility is to diagnose the symptoms through CST, provide adequate services to the victims and ensure hygiene in the crowded areas–with the help of volunteers.
If the affected person needs money, food, medicine, or any other kind of assistance, arrangements will be made by the committee through the active participation of the community.
The webinar also highlighted Sajida Foundation's experience of successfully supporting the people of 26 districts by involving individuals from all walks of life during the ongoing pandemic.
The webinar was organised by Bangladesh Health Watch (BHW) to share experiences of development agencies on public involvement in the fight against Covid-19.
Chaired by the Convener of BHW Mushtaque Chowdhury, other speakers: Bangladesh Country Director of The Hunger Project Badiul Alam Majumdar, Associate Director of Brac Morseda Chowdhury, Senior Director of Sajida Foundation Fazlul Hoque, presented their experiences at the webinar.
The speakers also urged the government, public representatives, private organisations, and non-governmental organisations to work together to combat the pandemic.