Amujae Leader and Freetown, Sierra Leone Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr recently spoke with France24 about how her city is responding to the COVID-19 crisis. She discussed the difficulties the pandemic poses to residents in overcrowded areas and what can be done to help communities protect themselves from the spread of the virus:
“There are seven to a room, 4 to a room, 11 to a room. Social distancing does not work in the way that it is described generally by the medics. So, what communities have decided to do, what makes sense in that context is for you to focus on the hands, wash hands regularly in order to prevent the virus from being transmitted. You can’t stay a meter away from someone, but you can keep control of your hands.”
When asked if Sierra Leone was better prepared for COVID-19 because of their experience with the Ebola crisis, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr noted that people might be more open to the behavior change needed to contain a virus:
“I would say we have a population who this time around are more attuned to the challenges and more open to the messaging so the concept of washing your hands – the idea that your country could be overridden by a virus is something that resonates. So, there is much more of a willingness, a speed to people’s actions. There are buckets everywhere, people washing their hands. What we see as a challenge going forward with this response is that we need to ensure that we as a city and as a nation are enabling people to do this – 47% of my population do not have access to running water.”
Watch Mayor Aki-Sawyerr’s full interview with France24 here.