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Market administrators trained on safe trade zones

By Wek Atak Kacjang

At least 24 market administrators have been trained on how to roll out the safety trade zone in the country.

Speaking to the press yesterday, the African Medical Research Foundation (AMREF) Health Africa Program Manager, Doris Lamunu said that thetraining would ensure continuous reinforcement of knowledge and awareness of COVID-19 at the various departments at the border.

“Currently the training of trainersis the main contact point on COVID-19 related work, they also support other implementing partners in distribution of facemasks and observing IPC measures at the border,” Lamunu said.

 “The mapping of the market administrators was completed, training of trainers and a safe trade zone committee comprising of coordination and leadership, Infection Prevention and Control focal person, Surveillance focal person, Risk communication focal person and waste management focal person have been formed. The committee will support the implementation and monitoring of the protocol,” she said.

He added that the plan is to undertake mass sensitization where the 24 traders and public health nurses from Nimule hospital will create awareness through posters, public speakers and one-on-one reinforcement of COVID-19 messages.

Developed by Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) in partnership with AMREF Health Africa, the Safe Trade Zones protocols were launched in October 2020 in Nimule. They seek to facilitate safe opening of border markets following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic that saw countries close their borders to control the spread of the virus.The protocols propose several guidelines that need to be followed for border markets to reopen and allow people, especially women to trade safely.

He revealed that the protocol provides step-by-step procedures for the implementation of the safe trade zone. Among them, the protocols propose that each market should set up clear guidelines on operating time, cleaning, fumigating, arrival of vendors and suppliers and opening to the public as well as closing.

Proper wearing of face masks is a must at all times, maintain physical distance of at least two meters, create a one-way flow through markets to reduce back and forth movement and control the number of people in the marketplace at a given time, in addition to designating “waiting areas” and other potential points for controlling crowds.

Additionally, it proposes that no one should be allowed to enter the market without checking their temperature and respiratory symptoms and that anyone with a fever or Covid-19 symptoms be referred to the nearby health facility for further care and treatment.

Digital payments such as mobile money for customers should be adopted among traders and customers and where digital platforms are impossible, they should use gloves or encourage customers to deposit cash in a box or jar.

Ensure constant and continuing management and maintenance of water and sanitation facilities including handwashing sanitations.

According to John Bosco Kalisa, the South Sudan Country Representative for TMEA, the Safe Trade Zones protocols initiative is set to benefit more than 2000 traders this year.

“AMREF is doing a commendable job in terms of sensitizing and raising awareness for women to ensure that they are able to adhere to social distance while trading. The women of South Sudan have really applauded this initiative. We are also planning to organize the women to have safe cross border markets at Nimule under the Safe Trade Zones Protocols. It is an on-going initiative and we thank our donors, especially European Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (EU-IGAD), which is supporting that initiative.”

Further, the director gender and inclusion at TMEA, Wanjiku Kimamo noted that the safe trade zone project was informed by the need to help women traders at the bottom of the pyramid who have been greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, to regain their source of livelihood by conducting trade in a safe environment for women of about 80% of the workforce in border markets.

So far, at least two markets in South Sudan have been identified to roll out the protocols. These are Nimule and Abila markets.

Lamunu, however, said that priority will be given to the Nimule market, which has capacity of 300 women traders.

In addition to South Sudan, Uganda, Zambia and Kenya are also benefiting from the Safe Trade Zones Protocols.

The Safe Trade Zones protocols are part of the $23m wider Safe Trade Emergency Facility rolled out by TMEA in the East African region in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that trade is not disrupted and that it continues to play a critical role in the region.

The Nimule Women Cross Border Traders Association chairperson, Yemima Semira Erisama applauded the development partners for the Safe Trade Zones protocols, saying it will enable them trade better.

“So far two markets have been identified for implementation of these protocols; these markets will have one entrance and one exit so that before anyone accesses them, they are first checked to confirm that they are adhering to the COVID-19 standard operating guidelines,” she said.

She added, “This will ensure that there is proper monitoring of whoever is operating from the market or accessing it. It is with no doubt one way of ensuring that Trade continues but in a Safe Way that doesn’t endanger anyone.”

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