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COVID-19 in Zimbabwe

Updated: May 9

Marange Development Trust’s (MDT) report on the impact of COVID-19 on youths


by Molline Mudiwa, MDT youth aged 25

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), older people and those with underlying health conditions such as Cardiovascular disease, Diabetes and Chronic Respiratory diseases are more likely to develop serious illnesses from COVID-19 which may result in fatality.


This statement has been misinterpreted by the youth of the Diamond Mining community of Marange. They believe that they are invincible and are ignorant of the fact that they may contract the virus, and then transmit it to the elderly in their homes - who are prone to suffer serious consequences.


As MDT, a community based organization situated in Marange, we conducted interviews (taking necessary measures to prevent the spread of the virus) with some of the youths of Marange. We wanted to find out if they were aware of the impact of this virus and if they knew measures to prevent its spread.


From our findings, it is sad to note that 70 percent of the young people do not realise the seriousness of this pandemic and the adverse impact it has on their lives.


The virus spreads through small droplets from the nose or mouth when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to WHO. This information and the measures to be taken in order to reduce its spread have been disseminated through various channels such as televisions, radios and mobile phones.


Despite these efforts, the youths of Marange are not complying. They have to be forced to wash their hands at funerals. About 60 percent of the interviewed youths were not aware of how to cover themselves properly when coughing or sneezing. Some use their hands while others do not cover themselves at all.


The practice of social distancing is a nightmare as most were used to going to clubs. Due to the closure of such, most males are turning to playing football in large numbers while females gather to gossip. Following the closure of businesses due to the lockdown, some youths are being initiated into the illegal smuggling of diamonds.


Education wise, the Ordinary and Advanced level students, especially those sitting for the June examinations have been affected the most by this pandemic. They have been deprived of having enough time to prepare with the help and guide of their teachers since schools closed early and their opening is still uncertain.


Most pupils at this time rely on vacation school. However, due to the lockdown, this has not been possible. Some candidates do not have all the necessary study material such as textbooks and past exams papers and at this time of crisis it is difficult to access them.


On a good note, there has been circulation of online learning materials of all forms. However, not everyone has a smartphone. Moreover, due to the increase in price of data tariffs, many cannot afford to access these.


Due to the teacher-pupil ratio of 1:40 in a standard classroom, it appears that the challenges created by this virus are likely to remain: as social distancing will not be feasible. Morover, the textbooks are not enough for every student to have his or her copy. Individual desks would also be required for every student, in order for social distancing to be practical.


A lot still has to be done in order to spread awareness to the youths as they have some false beliefs attached to the virus. Some believe it only affects white people.


I believe community leaders such as village heads, councillors, chiefs, headmen together with community based organisations - should be directly given an open mandate to disseminate correct and timeous information relating to COVID-19 to their people.


This article first appeared on the Tunatazama Website. Reproduced with permssion.

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