Bauleni: Neighborhood in Lusaka, Zambia
Bauleni is a community of about 80,000 inhabitants, and like the rest of the world, it is dealing with the pandemic. All eyes of the West are on Africa, ready to see the worst.
The focus is on the scarcity of resources, structures, skills, because this is what we think, even unconsciously when we talk about Africa. If the old world is dying, imagine Africa! Instead, with the experience of those who regularly deal with epidemics, the
picture is momentarily different.
The community of Bauleni is responding with creativity and a certain timeliness to the COVID19 emergency.
While in Italy there was a certain shortage of masks, here in Bauleni they immediately started producing them with local fabrics. The principle is not defensive, that is, how to protect yourself from the virus, but the opposite, how to protect others if I were infected without knowing it.
Obviously the masks are not tested, but if they were to wear them all, the risk of spreading the virus would drastically lower. In addition to being very beautiful, these masks are also a business opportunity for the population of Bauleni,
which immediately organized itself and set up a real production chain, effective for the economy of the compound and for its safety.
Same thing happened for the Veronica Buckets, which are buckets, with a tap at the base, very useful in places like Bauleni, with a scarcity of clean water. They can be seen everywhere, placed independently at the entrance to shops, at the market and at the station.
This way people can wash their hands, before they go into a shop, to get on
a bus or a taxi or at the entrance to the market, before and after shopping. Initially, production was based on recycled 20-liter buckets that previously contained seed oil for cooking, with a tap stuck on the side of the bucket.
Now creativity has led to the production of pedals, without having to touch the tap with your hands to open and close the water and to get the soap. These are the strategies that also become business opportunities. A constructive creativity that makes it possible to respond to a pandemic with local means and intelligence.
People are not afraid of COVID19, it is an epidemic like many others experienced previously, but it adapts, by adjusting some behaviors, such as the greeting, which in Zambia took place with a prolonged exchange of handshakes. Now you greet each other with your feet, with a closed fist like the Rastafarians, or simply by bringing your hand to your chest as a sign of respect.
The number of people wearing masks is growing, even if it is very low compared to the total population, but it is still a good sign. Of course, no one follows the stay at home, but this was already known from the beginning.
The fact is that in Bauleni there have been no other cases of infections and Zambia, after more than two months from the first case of coronavirus, has a total of 761 to date (18 May 2020), of which 192 recovered, 7 deaths and 562 cases still in isolation but in stable conditions.
This is the situation in Zambia today, the response of its small communities to the virus and the beauty of finding opportunities in difficult times like the Covid-19 pandemic.
Derrick Chanda Corrispondent Projet Radici Lukasa Zambia