, 27 May, 2020 / 3:07 AM
Church leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have partnered with the European Union (EU) for a nine-month sensitization project dubbed “Support project for the prevention of COVID-19 in the DRC through communication for behavior change during and after the epidemic” worth Eur.2 million (US$2.17 million).
Aimed at sensitizing the people of God in the Central African nation about COVID-19 including preventing its spreading in communities, the program is to be spearheaded by the Commission for Justice and Peace of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) and the Commission for Justice, Peace and the Safeguarding of Creation of the Church of Christ in Congo (ECC).
“Beyond these two churches, all religious denominations and civil society organizations welcome the initiative taken by the EU to finance this project,” the Archbishop of Kinshasa, Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo was quoted saying during the Friday, May 22 launch held at the Inter-diocesan Centre in DRC’s capital, Kinshasa.
DRC has recorded at least 2,403 cases of COVID-19 including 240 recoveries and 68 related deaths.
The leadership of CENCO has reported that the religious bodies in the country set to benefit from the COVID-19 sensitization grant will engage in three main types of activities.
“First, the religious leaders will be raising awareness on the respect of the preventive measures decreed by the Congolese authorities as well as the World Health Organization (WHO),” Cardinal Ambongo who is also the Vice President of CENCO said.
The churches that are part of the project are also expected to “oversee the construction of individual and collective responsibility in the efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
The leaders of the respective churches will be required to put in place measures that will ensure the keeping of “the good habits acquired after this period of crisis in order to protect against future pandemics,” Cardinal Ambongo who is a member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin also said.
In a Tweet after the launch, the EU Ambassador in DRC, Jean-Marc Châtaigner highlighted the value of engaging religious leaders in the fight against the global pandemic.
“The involvement of the churches is essential to convince the population of the importance of different preventive measures, as well as to combat false beliefs,” Ambassador Jean-Marc Tweeted.
According to the EU Diplomat, the project also aims to “strengthen community mechanisms ahead of the economic recession and the poverty shock that the DRC will experience in the coming months.”
According to a World Bank report about DRC, COVID-19 pandemic “is expected to trigger an economic recession (-2.2%) in 2020, stemming from weaker exports caused by the global economic downturn.”
Overall, the Eur.2 million project, which has mobilized more than 1,500 volunteers, aims at contributing “to the interruption of the transmission of the Coronavirus in DRC and minimize its health and socioeconomic impact,” Ambassador Châtaigner said.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa