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ZAMBATT FET: Fighting Covid-19 and malaria in Birao

Birao, Central African Republic (CAR) – With the twin threats of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and malaria still very much present in Birao, northern CAR – the Female Engagement Team of the Zambian Contingent rolled their sleeves up to assist schoolchildren and local authorities in cleaning and fumigating schools and government buildings – a MINUSCA outreach activity conducted on 8 October 2020.

Decontamination of surfaces in public spaces is a key World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation to help stop the spread of the coronavirus disease; clearing mosquito breeding sites is similarly important in order to combat malaria.

Mandated to champion the protection of civilians, peacekeepers from the Female Engagement Team of the Zambian Contingent (ZAMBATT FET) continually mobilize resources to support health, education, social and humanitarian needs on multiple fronts, in collaboration with the national authorities, UN agencies, civil society and local communities. 

Contingent Commander Captain Sharon Namuchimba, accompanied by the team’s environmental health technologist Lieutenant Tendai Mpande, led the team’s efforts to promote sanitation and improve health conditions in places of learning and government alike: Birao Primary School, the Birao Cabinet Office,  the Deputy Prefect’s Office and the offices of the National Election Authority were all fumigated. 

MINUSCA Field Office Chief Bessan Vikou applauded ZAMBATT FET for the initiative and encouraged them to “continue working to improve the lives of the local population”.

“Schools, as a second home to children, need to be kept safe from both the pandemic and mosquitoes,” said Captain Sharon Namuchimba, adding that the contingent also conducts awareness-raising activities on Covid-19 preventive measures such as the wearing masks and regular washing of hands. 

Birao Primary School Headmaster Zachariah Bangue thanked MINUSCA and ZAMBATT for their efforts on behalf of the local population. He said the exercise meant parents “would not hesitate to send their children to school”. He further lauded the female blue helmets for having involved both the schoolchildren and their parents in cleaning the school, who he described as “important stakeholders in the fight against the coronavirus and malaria”.