COVID 19 – The Corona Virus and Chipembele’s Response

Dear Supporters, Programme and Project Participants and Community Members,

Amidst all the global change and instability we felt it was important to keep you updated about the COVID-19 strategy that Chipembele has implemented here on the ground in Mfuwe, Zambia to keep us all safe and our organisation running, though we are continually reviewing the way forward as the pandemic progresses.

First of all, our hearts and thoughts go out to the people who have been affected by COVID-19 in any way. We also hugely appreciate those who are steadfastly working on the front line or researching behind the scenes to contain the virus and help keep us safe. Every one of us has an important role to play in stopping the spread of COVID-19, which to date has no vaccination or proven cure. (Any new updates will be added below our original statement posted on 27th March 2020 immediately below.)

Wishing you the very best of health and hoping for safe and stable times ahead for you all.

Anna and Steve Tolan
Directors


27 March 2020 – OUR INITIAL COVID19 RESPONSE AND POLICIES

We are very closely monitoring the development of COVID-19 and we are following all World health Organisation and Zambian Government advice about what we should and shouldn’t be doing, both personally and as an organisation. The health, safety and well-being of our staff and students is our number one priority. Schools, colleges and universities officially closed on Friday 20th March and the Government imposed a range of movement and gathering restrictions. While our education programmes had to close as a result, we will continue to find ways to safely offer support and advice to our local community based on Government guidelines. In addition to taking care of ourselves and our families, we are mindful of supporting to support as many of those around us as we can; for many the uncertainty is a huge source of anxiety.

Here are some of the steps we have taken so far:

1. Appointed a COVID-19 Officer (Jen Redway, Conservation Programme Manager) who checks official websites daily and circulates updated relevant information to staff
2. Held a COVID-19 sensitisation meeting with all our staff, volunteers and Mentors at Chipembele about the virus
3. Distributed Zambian Ministry of Health and WHO informations sheets in English and Chinyanja to staff and displayed them at the Chipembele Offices
4. Put up a hand washing station outside the Chipembele Offices for staff, students and anyone from the public to use freely and another at the staff accommodation at the Chipembele Centre
5. Developed a new section on infectious diseases in our Health and Safety Manual and Policy

As an established education organisation we have the resources, personnel and moral duty to help promote accurate and up-to-date information during times of public crisis. We have therefore displayed official information posters in public places throughout the greater Mfuwe area and distributed information sheets to headmen/headwomen of villages and other key people in the community. Our Community Conservation Educators take liquid soap with them and
encourage everyone they meet during this sensitisation process to wash hands for a minimum of 20 seconds before they start. As we are not in the health sector the advice will be strictly referring to Government guidelines.

As a conservation organisation we are obviously concerned about what the impact of depleted tourism will have on the community and the negative knock-on effect on habitats and wildlife as a result. So we have plans to keep the Chipembele programme going as long as we can through a series of local radio sessions on conservation, wildlife and the environment. As people increasingly stay at home the radio audience should be more extensive than ever. Our Education Team will also spend their time productively by carrying out on-line conservation research, making new lesson plans and creating innovative activities for when everything normalises. And when it does we will be raring to go with exciting new resources and a fresh energy.

Finally, of great consternation to us as a non-profit charitable organisation is what the impact of the virus and the necessary restrictions imposed by Governments across the world is likely to have on our funding. Without continued financial support over the coming months we cannot operate and continue with our vital work. We will need essential running costs to keep Chipembele going throughout the year so your continued support at this time of global crisis would be hugely appreciated. In fact, we need you more than ever.

Anna and Steve Tolan
Directors