On July 17, 2020, iCampus hosted an online debate on the theme: “Government Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak in Liberia.’’ The debate, featuring two teams from the Center for Exchange and Intellectual Opinions (CEIO), reached nearly 130,000 social media users.
The debate was broadcast live on KMTV and was one of four events sponsored by USAID (United States Aid for International Development) Liberia Accountability Voice Initiative (LAVI) to raise awareness and education about the coronavirus pandemic.
Since June, iCampus has also organized two comedy shows and an online learning webinar on COVID-19 as part of LAVI’s Learning and Methodologies Shared through Strategic Collaboration with Civil Society Actors for Adaptation and Self-Reliance.
The debate teams examined the critical issues and the key interventions instituted by the Liberian government since the first coronavirus case was reported in March. So far, Liberia has recorded 1,107 cases (490 active), 70 deaths, and 547 recoveries.
Filmmaker and media guru, Zubin Cooper, moderated the debate in which the two sides discussed the pros and cons of the government’s intervention.
Randolph Kemokai, who represented the team that supported the government’s intervention, said the government took progressive steps to address the pandemic such as instituting a lockdown that included the closing of schools, churches as well as a ban on public gatherings. The government, he said, also opened the 14 Military Hospital and provided hotels to treat and monitor COVID-19 patients.
“The government has been robust in its response,’’ he said.
Rassak Kanneh and his team criticized the government for politicizing the COVID-19 pandemic. He cited the decision by Monrovia’s City Mayor Jefferson Koijee to train 6,000 inexperienced people with no medical background to do contact tracing.
The government failed to fulfill its promise to pay water and electricity for the most vulnerable people and has yet to account for all the donor funds provided to fight the pandemic. The government had a series of missteps that exacerbated the crisis, he said.
“COVID-19 has been politicized,’’ said James Cox, a member of the opposing team. “People are putting their names and pictures on donated items. COVID-19 can be eradicated if we address the real issues.’’
Luther Jeke, iCampus director, said the “Strategic Online Public Debate’’ is one of the innovative tools iCampus is using to stimulate the need for proper coordination and information dissemination around the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The debate further highlighted the essential value of learning in social care and public health to a wider audience and how it needs to be harnessed in a way that we think about future care, support and well-being beyond COVID-19 in Liberia.”
iCampus (https://www.icampus.io) is Liberia’s first multi-disciplinary, innovation, and community space for change-makers focusing on the intersection of technology, accountability, and social change. Our 4,000 square foot campus in the heart of Monrovia provides the space, resources, support, and cutting-edge technologies that can make change possible in Liberia.