Looking back on three successful citizen webinars: - Foundation Office Uganda and South Sudan
For several months now, the world has been faced by the global corona virus pandemic. To date, there are an estimated 3 million confirmed cases of the disease and 200,000 deaths. Uganda, too, has had to put in place measures to curb the spread of the virus.
Not always have these measures been met with cooperation and understanding of the population as fake news circulate and proper information is not always readily accessible. To contribute to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, KAS partnered with the Ministry of ICT to support efforts that debunk myths around COVID-19. Through a series of three webinars, common misperceptions were addressed, and key government messages reiterated.
The citizen webinars were held on these three themes:
1. The Science behind COVID-19
2. The Threat of Fake News during a Pandemic
3. Coping with Anxiety and Mental Health during Crisis
The focus of this project was to spark conversations and inform the masses within and beyond Uganda, and to redirect attention to plan for a new, progressive post-COVID-19 world for our respective communities and countries.
Besides informative and enriching inputs, the citizen webinar series have also acted as a reminder and sensitisation tool for citizens to maintain the guidelines on social distancing and general hygiene.
The webinar series keenly addressed the “infodemic” which remains the biggest challenge to combatting COVID-19 and to re-shaping the narrative around COVID.
Additionally, the webinars put a spotlight on mental wellbeing and acknowledged the need to provide pyschosocial support to citizens who are coping with anxiety during the COVID pandemic. Oftentimes, such anxiety manifests itself in fear and stigma, making a difficult situation worse and thereby not only unfairly targeting healthy individuals, but also witch-hunting those who may have contracted the disease.
The webinars were able to create a feedback loop for Uganda’s citizens. Their questions, suggestions, and concerns were heard and acted upon. By and large, the COVID webinars have proven that citizen’s participation is essential to the collective response of the pandemic.
The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung looks back on a successful cooperative project with the Ministry of ICT. Vincent.W. Bagiire, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry, reiterated that “the main aim of the partnership is to allow the citizens to interact with experts and get a better context of the pandemic and Government’s efforts to protect citizens against COVID-19.” Speaking about the partnership, Mr. Mathias Kamp, KAS Country representative for Uganda & South Sudan said, “the collaboration with the Ministry of ICT & National Guidance reflects KAS’ goal to contribute to informed dialogue to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. This comes at a time when joining hands with the governmental efforts is paramount”.