At the end of February 2021 Development for Peace Education was invited by Malea-lea Development Trust (MDT) an organisation working to inspire marginalized and vulnerable groups in Malea-lea in the district of Mafeteng and within the community council of Lehlakaneng.

Malea-lea Development Trust has been working on COVID-19 awareness in the villages but failing to introduce sustainability of what they do at the community level and therefore invited DPE to facilitate a workshop of twenty participants, including chiefs, staff and the community councilor. The purpose of the workshop was to share with the participants DPE’s mandate on COVID-19 and how that can assist the chiefs to have sustainable response to COVID 19.

The DPE facilitator brainstormed with the participants on the virus, symptoms, managing and means of recovery at home also the importance of going to the nearest clinic if the symptoms are severe, but the participants already had awareness of most of the content discussed. The chiefs agreed that the virus can be addressed through local governance structures but reported that it has been a struggle to convince members of their communities to consistently wear masks and take other measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Besides these the participants were introduced to the formation of committees and the development of by-laws with villagers under the guidance of the chief and the councilor.

The chiefs appreciated the approach introduced and said it will make it easier for them to work with community members.  Mrs. ‘Mamakhetha made an example that the committees can play an important role to monitor the erection of tip-taps in each household and that people always put on their masks, including children who are outside playing. Chief Sakia on the other hand said that because they were working alone in December they did not effectively manage the problem of community members who work as migrant workers in South Africa who had come home for the holiday, as most of these refused to comply with instructions from chiefs and Councillors,’ but said that with the new by-laws developed through community participation it will be easy to comply and work hand in hand with the committee.

Mr. Tello Moeketse the director of MDT appreciated the approach and said that it introduces an element of community ownership and shared responsibility as a result it is likely to be sustainable as people will be part of the whole process.

DPE tried this approach in its eight areas of work in 115 villages through the Rekindling Community Resilience Against COVID-19 powered by the United Nations Development Programme, British High Commission Lesotho, Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa and Denmark Lesotho Network. It is encouraging to get this kind of feedback. What needs to be done is to amplify the feedback to inform policy decisions.

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