THE Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) says government needs to carry out a robust sensitisation campaign against COVID-19 for the country to avoid a total lockdown as a result of the disease.

In an interview, CSPR acting executive director Juliet Ilunga said the spread of the disease must be halted because total lockdown would result into increased poverty levels in the country.

“As CSPR, we are more concerned about the poverty levels among the ordinary citizens, amongst the most vulnerable in society, the poor and I think that at the moment, one of the ways in which government can try to address the impact of this COVID-19 on poverty levels, especially the poor, is to seriously embark on a sensitization programme, awareness programme especially targeted at the densely populated areas. Because I think you aware that when you go to these densely populated areas where we find most vulnerable people, it’s business as usual. You go Kalingalinga, you go to Mtendere, you go to Chaisa, people are not yet observing the WHO and Ministry of Health rules that have been put in place, the issues of social distancing and washing of hands,” Ilunga said.

“So what we need now is government to seriously embark on a huge awareness programme so that people will begin to observe the rules that have been put in place and avoid a situation where we go into a complete lockdown.”

She said in an event of a total lockdown, those who lived on hand-to-mouth basis would be highly affected as government was not capable of distributing food as is the case in Rwanda.

“As government receives some help from various partners, they should embark on a serious awareness programme so that these people who are vulnerable understand the seriousness of this pandemic that is before us because already, we know that it is spreading, we already have someone from Chaisa who is sick, meaning that it is already spreading and if nothing is done, if no serious awareness is done, it will lead to a complete lockdown and you know what that means,” said Ilunga.”When we have a complete lockdown, it means these people who depend on hand to mouth will not really survive and as at now, government is not in a position like in Rwanda where they can distribute food door-to-door, it’s not possible, government does not have that capacity.”