A grouping of social change agents and development practitioners have formed a network meant to provide support and keep the sustainable development goals agenda relevant as the country is in lockdown to fight the Covid19 pandemic.
Known as Agents for Development Trust, the grouping was initiated by poetry novice Milton Mandaza and has attracted social media influencers that include author, philanthropist and co-founder of Triumph Africa, sustainable development goals specialist Tendai Immanuel, mining mogul Mr Jack Makate, renowned comedian and tourism champion Carl Joshua Ncube, Zimbabwe Cares Network co-founder Suraiya Essof and publisher Charles Mungoshi Jr who heads the Hub of Positivity.
Various organisations have adopted contingent plans and adapted to the ‘new normal’ resulting in a grouping of different development practitioners and charities to form support groups in a bid to keep the sustainable development agenda flame alight.
The Covid 19-induced national lockdown has disrupted several social and economic activities that had been lined up for the 2021 calendar.
As the Covid19 pandemic wreaks havoc on the global development agenda, Government has made frantic efforts to cushion the livelihoods of citizens in this national lockdown period.
In July, Government paid $300 per family to over a million families as it moved to cushion the vulnerable from the pandemic-induced poverty brought about by lockdowns as the fight against Covid19 takes centre-stage.
This week, Government announced it was extending Covid 19 allowances of USD75 each for civil servants while cash handouts would be availed to those identified to be in need.
In an interview with Ms Immanuel this week, she emphasized the need of networking and embracing social media in the midst of the coronavirus scourge.
“As community groups and NGOs, it is important for us to stay connected, stay informed and share best practice solutions as we also navigate the changes brought by COVID-19.
“We must innovate the service delivery of our intervention programmes to ensure that we do not inadvertently distribute the virus as we distribute food packages, for example. It is easy to burnout or run out of solutions as a leader. I encourage all development practitioners not to be discouraged or to work in silos, but to join support groups and like-minded sustainable development social networks,” she said.
Charities and civil society organisations have also been taking advantage for the ever increasing trend of social media use.
Other networks such as Zimbabwe Cares Network have numbers reaching over 7,000 followers on Facebook whilst more specified and targeted networks such as the Agents of Development have leveraged WhatsApp group platforms to continue to grow and empower their 700 subscribers.
For instance, one of the group members Mandaza helps lead a community initiative for cattle dipping in Chivhu which has seen continuous weekly cattle dipping at Madzivire Dip Tank.