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Home > COVID-19 > Zambia's SALT response

Zambia's SALT response to COVID-19

A feature of the SALT approach is its immense ability to bring benefits across distance, peoples and time.

Relatively tiny amounts of funds can bring benefits for generations, and can spread far and wide. An example, which extends the activity from decades ago, is provided by the local response to COVID-19 in Zambia.

Back in March 2020 Ian Campbell and Zambia's Elvis Simamvwa discussed how Zambia could respond to COVID-19. The response would be Zambia-wide and would embrace SALT practice and the development of facilitation teams.

At first they focused on the Churches Health Association of Zambia (CHAZ), which each of them had previously chaired. Via CHAZ over 60% of the Zambian population is reachable. However, at the time CHAZ was preoccupied with the challenges of supplying and distributing personal protective equipment, as were other national faith and development entities.

So Elvis called their old friend Ellie Kalichi – she is now the Chieftainess of the Mapangaya area and represents about 60 villages and about 60,000 people. Some weeks later Ellie asked for Ian to call her.

Ellie told of her concern for her people because of government-ordered lockdown. Two weeks earlier, despite movement being prohibited, she had arranged for her and her entourage to visit three villages. As the Chieftainess she had the authority. No other district leader from police, government or faith group could do it for fear of punishment by law.

She had found fear confusion and conflict about COVID-19. Infection numbers in the country were low [and in early June remain low], but the trajectory was unknown. The people had little water for drinking let alone for handwashing to contain COVID-19.

Ellie and Ian agreed that the people should proactively refer people with Covid symptoms to local health centres for further assessment, and should engage in testing and contact tracing when it becomes available. And, the people should partner with the local Chikankata Hospital (which is designated as a key Provincial COVID Center) and the District Health Office.

Ellie's confidence is built on her previous experience of community responses to leprosy, TB and HIV – and her actions go far beyond raising awareness.

Local coordination was ready, and Ian sought from the USA a modest grant for community counselling and leadership engagement.

The grant will cover systematic community counselling for three months with 60 villages by a mobile team drawn from the Chiefdom. The team will include people from local church, health facilities (both mission and government), local government, and the district health office.

The three main indicators/outcomes should be:

The impact will include renewed confidence and plans of the local communities for action in the future, and the part they can play in the district/ national response to the next epidemic whatever it may be.

The initiative has been local, and it could show the way to others both in Zambia and beyond.

The local team budget is modest and is sufficient for their work in the next three months (June to August). They have what it takes to get that far. The reflection on the significance of faith and community relationship in shaping the overall response is really important. Ian hopes it can happen.

The need after August

More funding will be needed by September to cover facilitation of learning synthesis, which is a vital part of SALT practice.

The process will involve the local team in listening to participants, gathering stories, and accumulating some figures. This will help reveal the core learnings and significant themes, such as:

A process will need about a week. It would be SALT-grounded with timelines and capture of significant change. It would involve thematic analysis with Covid teams from the villages, partners, and the lead for the Covid response, who is the Chieftainess.

A small amount of extra funds would go a long way. Funds would contribute to the travel and living expenses of a couple of local associates of Affirm (such as Elvis) joining with the coordinator and the implementing team to reflect together and document the learning. If you can help, even a bit, then please let us know.

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