Ngozi Perpetua Osuchukwu is a Certified Librarian of Nigeria. She is a Lecturer in the Department of Library and Information Science at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra, State, Nigeria where she is currently a PhD student in Library and Information Science. Here she talks about changes to the way communities share information.
The harsh realities and experiences of COVID-19 on communities and livelihoods have indicated that humanity must adjust, if it is going to sustain its economic activities. There is now a correlation between livelihood and global events. I have been thinking about how I went from community information and engagement to awareness of preventive measures on COVID-19 in Anambra State, Nigeria in collaboration with non-governmental organizations (NGOs). With the news filtering in of new cases permeating into our towns and communities, it became clear that danger was lurking and we would have to adapt.
There was real panic and fear as ‘lockdown’ became a new terminology being lived out, even in the communities. Guidelines for prevention of COVID-19 mounted, media became awash with jingles, graphics and infographics. But what happened to our communities and their livelihoods?
We watched as dwellers deserted their farm lands.
We watched as people kept away from their stands in the market places.
We watched as markets closed.
We watched as the little money at hand for food fizzled out and purses became empty.
We watched as hunger became another variable that erupted from the lockdown.
We watched as farm crops spoilt, wares expired, or became rotten and damaged because of the lockdown.
We watched as able-bodied men and women went hungry with children looking on askance.
It dawned on us that community development and engagement should be re-designed. Most livelihoods in the communities we work in are physically based: farming, petty trading, artisans and members of the civil service. These are simple people doing their normal business at their own pace pre COVID-19 but now, they have been dealt heavy blows.
Now, we have added COVID-19 to our community information and engagement. We found out that many dwellers have smart phones. So we felt that facilitating ICT and digital skills in creating awareness of their crops, prices and contacts for supply and packaging will add value to their lives. They need firsthand information on policies relating to their livelihoods. Online business awareness and product sales are not rocket science. They can do it as well as cooperation and collaboration among themselves for negotiation of goods. We also proposed negotiating announcements in the local area on who has something to sell and where to pick it up as one of the good practices of post COVID-19 on livelihoods. Our communities need these updates.
Great lessons are learned with COVID-19, unarguably.