By APCNews 08 April 2020
Given the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations and companies are adapting to the situation and trying to find new ways to reach out to their audiences. In the context of the movement towards global access to information, some organisations are working to ensure that everyone can find the necessary information to keep themselves and their communities safe during this health crisis.
APC's "Connecting the Unconnected: Supporting community networks and other community-based connectivity initiatives" project has supported two Africa-focused community network organisations, Zenzeleni Networks NPC and the Tunapanda Insitute, both of which have released resources on dealing with the pandemic in their local contexts. In a crisis such as this, it is important that people are able to obtain information that will help them stay safe and aware of an evolving situation, and initiatives like these are crucial for reducing the traditional barriers to information that prevent global access.
Zenzeleni is a wireless internet service provider that offers high-quality and affordable internet to rural communities in South Africa, while also working to support and ensure connectivity and telecommunications development across geographic and economic divides. Zenzeleni recently released a set of resources on their online community notice board in response to COVID-19 that is relevant to those living in rural settings. These resources are zero-rated, meaning that everyone is able to access accurate, current and relevant information at no cost. They have shared information on recognising reputable sources and important health practices.
The Tunapanda Institute works in East Africa, focusing on educational content, digital literacy and entrepreneurship with the goal of creating a network of accessible and sustainable tools in low-income environments. In response to COVID-19, Tunapanda is assisting teachers in uploading courses online so that students can access their information from home, customising health information for local contexts, as well as working towards the creation of safe spaces and open discourse about the effects that COVID-19 has on complex familial situations. Additionally, they also work to ensure healthy practices in poor areas where social distancing is not possible.
Acknowledging that the situation cannot and should not be dealt with in the same way around the world, organisations like Tunapanda and Zenzeleni are integral for ensuring that different communities deal with COVID-19 in a way that fits the local context.