Security Forces and Local Leaders using Kabake Radio Programme to Sensitize Communities in Acholi sub-region about Covid-19

JAMES OWICH

Caption: Douglas Peter Okello, Omoro District LCV Chairperson sensitizing communities on Covid-19 during Kabake Radio Programme on April 12, 2020.

Security forces and leaders in Acholi sub region have turned to Kabake Community Radio Programme to sensitize communities on the danger of the Coronavirus and its impact on their livelihoods.

After government announced lockdown close to a month ago, communities in Acholi sub region have turned to radio as their major source of information on the pandemic.

This was the first Kabake was being broadcast live after over 15 years following ban on public as a measure to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The program which runs from between 10AM and 12noon sponsored by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung was recorded before being aired on 102 Mega FM, one of the leading FM radio stations in northern Uganda.

Since December 2019, the deadly respiration disease has claimed over 125,000 lives and infected closed to 2.5 million people across the globe.

Appearing on Kabake Radio Programme which was broadcast live on 102 Mega FM on April 12, Major Caesar Otim Olweny, the 4th Division Army Headquarters based in Gulu District, urged the communities to ensure that they heed the advice offered by President Yoweri Museveni and healthcare workers.

“If we (communities) listened to the advices offered by the President (Museveni) and trained medical personnel, we will be able to defeat this disease (Coronavirus),” says Major Olweny.

Major Olweny noted that Uganda has a long history of successfully defeating viral diseases and use its experience to fight Coronavirus.

“As a country, we have able to deal with Ebola and HIV/Aids. I think if we listen to advice, we can be able to successfully fight Coronavirus,” he adds.

According to Olweny, if the communities were observing the presidential directives, there was no need for police and army to be poured on the street.

However, he noted that some of individuals are determined to frustrate the efforts put in fighting Coronavirus.

“Some people are frustrating our efforts in enforcing the curfew. Some of our personnel have been violently attacked while implementing the presidential directives on Covid-19,” says Olweny.

At least two army officers in Acholi sub region have been attacked civilians while on duty during the lockdown.

On April 13, Pte Alex Niwanyine, a UPDF officer attached to 4th Division Infantry Headquarters in Gulu District who violently attacked and, in the process, his right eye gauged.

Pte Niwanyine was enforcing the Presidential directives in Bibia Trading Centre in Atiak Sub County, Amuru District when his eye was gauged.

President Museveni recently warned the civilian population against attacking members of security forces against attacking the security forces.

“You beat me, I will beat you until you lose appetite for beating me,” President said in a strongly worded statement.

Museveni was responding to reports that police and army officers implementing his directives were being pelted with stones and in some cases, others were physically assaulted.

Meanwhile the Assistant Superintendent of Police, Jimmy Patrick Okema who is the police Spokesperson for Aswa River Region also noted during the show that an overwhelming number of the population are not observing social distancing.

“People are still gathering at drinking joints and yet it has been banned. This can lead to further spread of Coronavirus. We need to heed to the advice of healthcare workers so that we don’t put our lives at risk,” adds Okema.

He said the security forces will not relent in enforcing the presidential directives.

Douglas Peter Okello, the Omoro District Local Council V Chairperson who also participated in the Kabake Community Radio Programme urged the communities not to ignore any health messages during this time of the pandemic.

Okello said the only way to stop further spread of Coronavirus is to ensure that all the health messages being broadcast over the radio and others released being communicated by the health workers should be treated with outmost importance.

“Let’s listen to what the healthcare workers are telling us and put it into practice. Wash your hands, maintain social distancing and ensure that at all times you sanitize your hands,” says Okello.

He adds that during this time of Convid-19 pandemic, it is important for the community to unite and defeat the virus.

According to Okello, if the communities do not listen, they may make the work of health workers difficult since they will be overwhelmed if the number Covid-19 goes up.

A participant who contributed through phone call, Odong Kitama praised the security forces for enforcing the presidential directives on Covid-19.

“This viral disease is very dangerous, and I am happy that the army is ensuring there is no further spread,” said Kitama.

However, he criticized those who are attacking the security forces.

He warned that is could lead to dangerous confrontation.

Richard Watmon- the area Councillor Three for Paibona parish in Gulu District asked the security forces to allow local leaders recruit youth to assist in implementing the presidential directives.

He said some community members are adamant and need to be handle with iron fist hand.

Recently, a section of political leaders in the region led by Samuel Odonga Otto, the Member of Parliament for Aruu County in Pader District blocked an ambulance which was evacuating a Coronavirus patient to be admitted at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital.

The patient was later taken to Entebbe Grade B Hospital, for treatment.

Although Acholi sub region had not recorded a single case of Coronvirus, region however suffered Ebola outbreak in October 2000.

The haemorrhagic fever killed 244 people including Dr Mathew Lukwiya, the former medical director of St Mary’s Hospital Lacor, one of the largest hospital in northern Uganda.