Even when we have to keep our distance, people around the world are coming together like never before to help their communities face the challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis. We’re not public health experts, but we wanted to share some new ideas that have been put into practice in an effort to fight the virus and mitigate the social impact of the pandemic. Here are a few standout examples from Kyrgyzstan that can serve as inspiration for civic initiatives elsewhere. In the upcoming days and weeks, we’ll be sharing more exciting projects from other countries.
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We’ll publish the most creative and inspiring civic responses to the global pandemic.
Cycling enthusiasts in the capital Bishkek are jumping on their bikes to deliver food and medicine to the sick and elderly. The Urban Initiatives cycling advocacy group teamed up with the Babushka Adoption Foundation, a group providing social care and assistance to the elderly, to make the deliveries. They’re also delivering insulin to patients with diabetes, who are at a higher risk for complications from Covid 19. Together they make 50-100 deliveries per day for free.
As elsewhere, some of the first victims of the economic downturn have been freelancers. As small and medium businesses are forced to cut advertising costs, copywriters, graphic designers, social media specialists, and content marketers have found themselves out of work. In Kyrgyzstan, professionals in these fields have joined forces to create Survival Hub, a platform where creatives can fill in a form describing their skills and availability and get connected with other freelancers or businesses in need of their services, as well as have their info made available to employers searching for freelancers on international recruitment websites.
A new civic initiative called The People’s Headquarters for Countering Coronavirus is a Telegram channel that anyone who wants to volunteer their time or donate money can join and start helping immediately. The movement has united thousands of people from across the country sewing or purchasing masks and protective equipment for medical personnel, delivering hot meals to frontline workers, assisting the most vulnerable with humanitarian aid, disseminating confirmed, reliable information about the pandemic, and much more. So far, The People’s Headquarters has raised nearly 30,000 euros.
Kyrgyzstan’s IT set has come up with a host of online and tech platforms to inform and help during the coronavirus crisis in both Russian and Kyrgyz languages. This has enabled them to reach both urban, mostly Russian speaking audiences, as well as rural, mostly Kyrgyz speaking communities. Kovid.kg provides public health and hygiene information, statistical data on infection rates, and other useful content related to coronavirus in Kyrgyz language. One group has set up Telegram chat bots in both Kyrgyz and Russian language versions that answer questions about the virus, like where you can get a test and what to do when you return home from abroad. Another app, available for Android and IOS, connects those struggling during the crisis to those ready to help. When you make an account, you can make requests for what you need, or offer what you have to give, be it food, clothes, or other essentials.
The outbreak of disinformation about the coronavirus that has accompanied the public health crisis has lead civic groups in many countries to create new fact-checking and countering disinformation projects, or redirect the resources of those that already exist. But to fight disinformation, it’s also important to make sure ethical, professional journalists have all of the resources they need to accurately report on the crisis in an engaging way. For example, the School of Peacemaking and Media Technology, a not-for-profit media development and communications organisation in Kyrgyzstan, is holding webinars for journalists on reporting the coronavirus crisis. Partnership of Public Councils and the Media are holding webinars training journalists how to crunch data related to the crisis and create attractive data visualisations.