In these troublesome days, one thing that we all have to understand and make a strong effort toward solving is knowledge accessibility. There’s no second opinion on the inefficacy of our education system, which has led to an immense social and economic disparity. It requires intervention on the scale of infrastructure, governance, and execution, but most importantly, it requires empathy.
The situation is quite unsure that even the World Health Organization has taken several U-Turns over its previous statements, and governments around the globe are struggling hard to save their people from the deadly Coronavirus. The Federal Government of Pakistan is having a hard time due to the severe lack of a plan and strategy for the pandemic. Baluchistan is one of these areas of the country, which is highly neglected in these days of trouble. But NGOs with their limited resources and collaboration of the Government of Baluchistan are working diligently for educating local people, especially of remote areas.
Balochistan Rural Support Program (BRSP) a non-profit organization working in Balochistan, is one of the largest organizations in the province. The organization was first evolved from the “Pak-German self-help project” in 1983, as a collaboration between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Government of Pakistan. Its main objective is to harness the potential of the rural low-income people by social mobilization strategy, helping them in their respective communities and to raise them up to their feet by improving their standards of living and also a sense of ownership for the local development. Currently, the organization has a presence in 26 districts of the province, focusing education, health, wash, capacity building & human resource, livelihood, and humanitarian relief.
On 10th March 2020, when coronavirus cases started ticking in Balochistan, Pakistan via Taftan border, and the first case confirmed in Quetta, the patient was a 12-year old boy, who had returned from neighboring country Iran with his family. As a result, on 20th March 2020, the government of Balochistan imposed complete lockdown in the province via issuing an official notification. Since then the organization carried its assessment and emergency response activities at 27 districts with the government of Balochistan by the support of international donors on the following six components.
- Conducted awareness of COVID-19.
- Strengthen capacity on COVID-19 infection prevention and control (IPC)
- Adopted a resilient approach for its citizen, communities, government department staff, law enforcement personnel, and health care facilities through provision of PPE (personal protective equipment).
- Increased WASH & Hygiene facilities specially hand washing units at public places.
- Strengthened coordination with government officials and stakeholders for timely response on COVID-19.
According to Organization’s CEO Nadir Gull Barech, till now BRSP has reached about 6.76 million people of 940,263 households in 425 towns with rural councils of 27 districts (Barkhan, Chaghi, Dera Bugti, Duki, Harnai, Jaffarabad, Jhal Magsi, Kachhi, Kalat, Kharan, Khuzdar, Killa Abdullah, Killa Saifullah, Kohlu, Loralai, Mastung, Musa Khail, Naseerabad, Noshki, Pishin, Quetta, Sherani, Sibi, Sohbat Pur, Washuk, and Zhob) consisting an area of 243,576 km2 which becomes total 70% population of the province. He told dawn staff that when the COVID-19 disease first entered in Balochistan in March, the organization launched its mass awareness campaign for COVID-19 in district Quetta and other districts simultaneously through loudspeakers, masjid announcements, awareness signboards, orientation sessions, dissemination of IEC material & installation of handwashing facilities at public places. While showing the campaign individuals awareness data separately, he explained & recorded the following data;
- Mobile loudspeakers announcements delivered messages in 3,983 hamlets of 425 UCs.
- 1,115 Masajid in 260 UCS recorded COVID-19 announcements via loudspeakers.
- 380,000 brochures/IEC distributed among citizens.
- Awareness messages delivered by religious scholars through Eid Sermons at 23 locations in 7 targeted districts.
- In addition, 1,893 CRPs (community resource persons) were Oriented and trained, who further reached out to 43,124 households in 199 UC of 15 districts.
- On the other hands, 660 banners and 400 visibility boards including the large billboards installed on public locations and entrance of Quetta city.
- Similarly,400 awareness-raising boards installed at the entrance of mosques in 7 districts.
- Apart of this, COVID-19 awareness messages are being aired on FM 89 and local cable channels in Urdu and all local languages across the province.
- Shortly, 1,000 copies of booklets written on “COVID-19 – Islamic Perspective on Pandemics” by BRSP distributed in 124 Madaris and Masajid in district Quetta.
For strengthening capacity on COVID-19 infection prevention and control (IPC)
BRSP has trained and built capacity building of 61 health officials staff on COVID-19, said by the organization’s focal person on communication. He added that we have orientated 1,893 volunteers on COVID-19 Infection prevention and control (IPC) for their respective communities. Apart from this, 222 janitorial staff has been trained by BRSP on environment cleaning and disinfection principles for care facilities.
Adopting a resilient approach for its citizen and communities
BRSP has distributed 166,700 surgical masks among its citizens., public & private health workers with the support of Indus Health Network. Similarly, the organization distributed 45,997 Sanitizers, 26,280 gloves, 40,964 soaps, and 2,911 protective suits. In addition, BRSP has also provided 1,320 hygiene kits to Metropolitan Corporation Quetta for its janitorial staff.
Installation of Hand Washing Units at Public locations
For fighting against the pandemic, the organization also joined hands with law enforcement forces for behavior change communication and installed 404 handwashing units at different public places of the province.
Coordination meetings with the government officials and stakeholders on COVID-19
For a rapid response, BRSP participated in 166 coordination meetings at the provincial and district levels. Similarly, the organization developed a real-time data management software (4W) for the COVID-19 activities. In addition, BRSP also provided technical support to the Health department and PDMA.
The BRSP emergency and prevention activities on COVID-19 are being accomplished with the cooperation of the government of Balochistan, Indus Health Network, Al-khidmat Foundation, Metropolitan Quetta and with the financial support of international & national donors including European Union, PATRIP Foundation, Indus Health Network, UNICEF, GIZ, NRSP, and RSPN under different projects including BRACE Program, Mainstreaming Madaris Education into the mainstreaming education, and Malaria Control Program. Scientia Pakistan is proudly sharing the accomplishments of BRSP as their media partner. We are standing side by side in their efforts and working on the translation of COVID-19 precaution data and material in the regional languages of Baluchistan.
Shams Ullah Durrani is a media scholar and environmentalist. He has five years of working experience in the development sector. He has worked on several projects such as inter-faith harmony, peace is possible, and Green Balochistan Tree Campaign. He is currently working with the Balochistan Rural Support Program (BRSP). His area of interest is Media Research, Climate Change, and Peace & Conflict Journalism.