South African oil company Engen has launched a campaign to support the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic by educating local communities on safety measures to curb the spread of the virus.

Under the drive, 35 spaza (informal convenience) shops across South Africa are being branded with educational murals to convey important messages on personal safety.
The messages, in a number of local languages, emphasise the importance of regularly washing hands, physical distancing, covering one’s mouth when coughing and sneezing and regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.

The campaign is targeted particularly at heavily populated townships and informal settlements whose residents may not have access to social and traditional media channels, Engen general manager for corporate strategy and communications Khalid Latiff said in a statement.

“We have acted with urgency in the fight against the pandemic by converting our existing OOH (Out of Home) platforms, which we usually use for paraffin safety messaging into Covid-19 educational billboards,” Latiff said.

Millions of poor South Africans use the highly imflammable paraffin for lighting and cooking, making their residences vulnerable to fire outbreaks.

Spaza shop owners have been provided with information brochures and hand sanitisers for their own and customers’ use, as well getting training on safety and hygiene measures to pass on to their customers.

Engen will also broadcast safety and hygiene messages on 40 digital screens in townships across the Gauteng and Western Cape provinces.

Latiff said the campaign would also help ensure the survival of small businesses, with Engen paying shop owners for the use of their premises as media space.

“We hope (this) will support their businesses by helping them with their cash flow and ensure that they are able to survive the national lockdown and prosper beyond it,” he said, referring to a nationwide shutdown imposed from March 27 to curb Covid-19 transmissions in South Africa.

Spaza shops from the Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, and Western Cape provinces have been branded.
The latest statistics from the health ministry show that South Africa has to date recorded 7,220 confirmed cases of Covid-19, which has claimed 138 lives. Some 2,746 people have recovered from the virus.