Constituency Groups in East Lombok are Fighting COVID-19

23 June 2020
Author: Amron Hamdi

(By Baiq Titis Y. & Baiq Indira F.)

Food sharing to ease the pandemic impacts

The COVID-19 pandemic which is now sweeping the world has claimed many lives, including in Indonesia. After the central government declared the situation in Indonesia to be a disaster, local governments and communities started to work together to break the chain of virus transmission.

In Selong District, East Lombok, Nursihum, and other members of the MAMPU supported Constituent Group (Group) have participated in the local emergency response. Nursihum and the Group are trying to strengthen the community’s economy. Motivated to prevent the transmission of the novel coronavirus, they produce and sell liquid detergent and bath soap, an activity which is also a source of income. The Group has also taken the initiative to distribute free rice every Friday to ease the burden on their community. They distribute food packages along with the soap and herbal drinks they produce.

“This is what we can do for the community. Providing rice packets, hand washing soap, and herbal drinks. Hopefully, it can help the government overcome this pandemic,” Nurmihsum said proudly.

The Constituent Group distributes aid packages to poor people in several villages in East Lombok Regency, such as Kaliantan Village, Serewe Village, Sembalun Village, and Bumbung Village.

Village Head Responds Quickly to COVID-19

In Kembang Kerang Village, East Lombok, Yahya, the former Chair of the Constituent Group now the Village Head, has taken various measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in his village. Since early February, Yahya has been following and monitoring the spread of COVID-19 through various news channels.

“At that time, I thought that if there were positive cases in Jakarta, then there was a possibility of the virus spreading to other areas, including to my region. I must act to protect my community, with or without instruction from the central government,” said Yahya.

On 16 March 2020, the East Lombok Regency Government declared COVID-19 an emergency. Yahya immediately coordinated with local authorities and the Regional Head. They agreed that they needed to restrict access in and out of Kembang Kerang Village and impose stricter obligations for residents who had recently returned from other regions to report each day to the Neighborhood Head. People who had returned from COVID-19 ‘red zones’ were required to self-isolate for 14 days with medical supervision.

The Kembang Kerang Village Government provides food packages for the community, sprays disinfectants at public facilities once a week, provides soap and handwashing stations in each street, and is preparing 7,000 locally produced face masks to distribute. The village government has also agreed to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical workers and has formed a local COVID-19 Task Force. The village’s COVID-19 Task Force is the front guard of COVID-19 prevention and treatment. The team is tasked with providing information about COVID-19 to the community and conducting examinations if anyone has symptoms.

The public relations section of the village administration disseminates information through a variety of channels, including through houses of worship and through social media, to keep the community aware of the latest developments.

Initially, Yahya planned to disburse welfare payments to orphans and the elderly early during the emergency response period. Unfortunately, the disaster response budget allocated through the Village Fund was insufficient, therefore, Yahya proposed changes to the Village Budget (APB)to cover COVID-19 response efforts.

Yahya who is also the Chairperson of the Village Head Association (IKADA) of Aikmel District, coordinated with other Village Heads to work together against the pandemic. IKADA sent a joint letter to district and provincial governments urging the governments to isolate and quarantine people entering West Nusa Tenggara Province.

The East Lombok Regency Government welcomed the proposal and obliged all people who entered East Lombok to undergo a health check at the Regent’s Office Hall. Those who are indicated to have COVID-19 symptoms will be immediately quarantined in Rusunawa, Peringgabaya District. While those who are in good health will be able to return to their village to undergo monitoring.

Yahya believes that solid cooperation is the best way to fight COVID-19.