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Oxford students set up COVID-19 support website for Zimbabwe

Five Oxford students are part of a global group of Zimbabwean students and young professionals who have founded the Zimbabwe Covid-19 Support Hub. The website pools data, advice, and support information to amplify the Zimbabwean government and civil society’s responses to coronavirus.

About 30 Zimbabwean volunteers use their expertise in programming, communication, economics, law, and other fields to run the website. The Oxford students are postgraduates originally from Zimbabwe: Terrens Muradzikwa from Keble College, Prince Abudu and Itai Muzhingi from Balliol College, and Jason Brickhill and Ngoni Mugwisi from Trinity College.

They collect and share information from authoritative sources, including accurate health advice, government information on the spread of the virus in Zimbabwe, and government measures. The website also collates details about how to access and support community-based projects, and the organisations to contact for assistance.

Muradzikwa explained to Cherwell how the website will support Zimbabwe’s response to coronavirus: “One, through busting fake news by sharing verified and accessible COVID-19 information in local languages such as Shona, Ndebele and Kalanga. We have translated expert-reviewed information from various sources such as the Ministry of Health, WHO, and COVID-19 Health Literacy Project. We have been distributing this information over our website and social media channels reaching over 100,000 people.

“Two, through amplifying the efforts of others in Government and civil society in Zimbabwe, including by encouraging Zimbabweans in the diaspora to help wherever they can. This includes information on GoFundMe campaigns and innovations by local universities.”

Abudu told Cherwell: “It was really the first COVID-19 death that was the wake-up call, because the case was of a young rising media star we all knew: Zororo Makamba. Motivated and deeply saddened by this, we had to act in such uncertain times and provide a platform to use our talents to contribute to the fight against COVID-19 in Zimbabwe.”

The website states: “We are a group of Zimbabwean professionals and researchers in the diaspora. We all have family and friends in the country. We are living through COVID-19 in other countries, but are deeply concerned about the threat of the virus to Zimbabweans. Zimbabwe faces challenges of poverty, a weakened public health system, high rates of HIV-AIDS and other underlying medical conditions, food insecurity, unemployment and fiscal instability that make the COVID-19 threat to Zimbabwe particularly severe.”

Zimbabwe Covid-19 Support Hub shares information on its website, and can also be found on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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