The COVID-19 health pandemic has been accompanied by an infodemic of misinformation and false cures. To increase access to accurate prevention measures against COVID-19 in informal settlements, UN-Habitat has formed a team of 61 trained community volunteers in five townships of Yangon (Hlaingthayar, Shwepyitha, Dala, South Dagon, and Dagon Seikkan). The team of volunteers reached out to a total of 13, 240 households with four key Information Educational, Communication and Information (IEC) pamphlets on COVID-19 preventive actions, how to keep your family safe, working or shopping in a wet market, and how to make a mask at home. Each volunteer was trained remotely by UN-Habitat and provided a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kit consisting of masks, full face vizors, gloves, and hand sanitizers.
A rapid assessment of informal settlements conducted by UN-Habitat had revealed that 33 percent of families in informal settlements did not have enough money to buy masks to protect themselves. Responding to the urgent need for affordable masks, community volunteers distributed a total of 102,000 masks to an estimated 13,240 households in informal settlements.
UN-Habitat is working with existing community development committees in Shwepyitha, Dala, Dagon Seikkan, and South Dagon for reaching out to the community. In Hlainthayar, UN-Habitat partnered with Bedar Social Development Group and the Urban Poor Network (UPN) to reach out to the community. Peace, a community organizer with Bedar, remarked, “Through this project, we have managed to reach out to the community at the time of an emergency. This is the first collaboration between UN-Habitat, Bedar Social Development Group, and the Urban Poor Network. We had several meetings on how to manage the project and reach out effectively to the community. I feel that we did not just distribute things, we were able to organize ourselves in a collaborative way to accomplish this”.