Ethiopia 10 March 2021- UN-Habitat in partnership with the respective local authorities and with the support of Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) held COVID-19 prevention campaigns as well as championed for the use of non-motorized transport (NMT) in two cities in Ethiopia; Addis Ababa, and Hawassa and ran a city cleaning exercise in the third; Bahir Dar.
In Hawassa, a week-long campaign to raise awareness about COVID-19 prevention was carried out in local languages in all the eight sub-cities of the city administration using car-mounted loudspeakers. The campaign, which was two-fold, COVID-19 prevention awareness and championing for NMT culminated in a five kilometre walk.
Major roads downtown were cleared of motorised vehicles and over 200 locals, including senior officials of the Federal Government’s Ministry of Transport, Sidama Regional Government and Hawassa City participated in the five kilometre walk. The event also involved over 50 cyclists and some youth who crossed the town on skateboards.
“Not only will the use of non-motorized transport help us conserve the environment but as you have seen today, helps keep safe distance in preventing the spread of this disease,” said Azmach Dona, the Deputy Head of the Sidama Regional Government Roads and Transport Bureau.
“Car-free days will promote general awareness, make cyclists and pedestrians more visible to motorists which will significantly promote road safety as well as contribute to the curb of the spread of COVID-19 in crowded public transport“ said Abel Estifanos, the National Program Officer and point person for NMT.
In Addis Ababa, the COVID-19 awareness campaign as well as NMT advocacy targeted vulnerable groups and children. In partnership with Addis Ababa Traffic Management Bureau, a cross section of Chad street in front of St. Lideta church, the inner slum part of the city was secured.
For COVID-19 awareness among children, a staging area of around 900 square meters was demarcated with safely distanced square quadrants where children were asked to freely illustrate their understanding of COVID-19 and its safety measures. Some 80 children ranging from 4 to 15 years took part. Thirteen-year old Henos Zelalem drew a large mural depicting social distancing of two people wearing masks and facing away from each other sitting in a bus stations with the inscription “This too shall pass, let’s keep our distance”.
Adult engagement involved issuing fliers with information on how to prevent one from contracting the disease, public transport transmission and considerations and as well as the benefits from NMT in light of the spread of the disease. They were then required to enact some of the messages indicated on the flier.
“We had to be very deliberate in ensuring total engagement of both adults and children in the COVID-19 preventive measures given the rise in infections. That is why we had to find innovative ways to get messages across effectively,” said Mr. Estifanos.
In Bahir Dar City, the COVID-19 awareness campaign was held alongside a city cleaning initiative. The event was officially opened by Dresse Sahilu, the Deputy Mayor. More than 500 people participated in the cleaning campaign from the Bahir Dar city Environment, personnel from sanitation and beautification office, Greenery and Dry waste agency, Compost workers, city youth group as well as the city’s locals. UN-Habitat provided packages of sanitary materials, t-shirts and face masks to facilitate the cleaning exercise which happened over a stretch of about 6 kilometers.