Voices
First-person perspectives on the world of work
Photo: Seyidina Alioune Diallo
Communication for development

A rap to raise awareness of the dangers of COVID-19

I always knew that through music it was possible to raise awareness and address very serious issues.

When COVID-19 started to hit Mauritania and affect its people, we knew we had to do something. So we thought of an idea and I proposed it to the project manager I work with as a communication assistant.  That’s how it came about that together with a few friends we wrote a rap and raised awareness among young Mauritanians and refugees in the Mbera camp about the dangers of COVID-19 and the need to respect hygiene measures.

COVID-19 has had a negative impact on the country's economy in general, particularly on the world of work and on vulnerable people. Unfortunately, certain practices favour the spread of the virus, notably the failure to wear masks in the workplace or in crowds. Several measures have been put in place by the Mauritanian authorities to effectively contain the spread of the virus. This has led to an economic slowdown and a drop in purchasing power. In my opinion, it is very important that the population understands the importance of respecting these measures in order to contain this disease and resume economic activities.

Composed by two Mauritanian rappers known as "Le Baron" and "Charke" as well as myself, this song is mainly aimed at Mauritanian youth and the refugees in the Mbera camp. It calls on everyone to respect the hygiene measures put in place by the Mauritanian authorities to protect themselves and others from this virus. It also stresses the importance of maintaining safe and healthy working conditions for workers.

The Mauritanian rapper "Le Baron" stands in front of a microphone in a studio. With his right hand he makes the “let’s rock” sign.

The Mauritanian rapper "Le Baron": "I felt almost obliged to participate in this project given my position as an artist, knowing the ongoing situation of COVID in the country and its negative effects on people and the world of work. This obligation was accompanied by a great pleasure - yes I did this song with pleasure and duty - hoping that it can change the habits of young refugees and young Mauritanians and alert them to the dangers of this disease.”

 

© ILO/OIT María Legaristi Royo

The launch of the song was accompanied by other awareness-raising activities in the field and the distribution of personal protective equipment including 11,000 masks.

Six men wearing masks stand behind a table. On the table are blue plastic bags filled with masks ready for distribution.  There is a sign behind them with the name of the ILO project, the ILO logo, the flag of Mauritania, and the flag of the United States, which supports the ILO and UNHCR project.

The distribution of the masks in Mbera camp. The masks were made by small sewing workshops in the region, supported by the ILO/UNHCR Teampreneurship project.

© ILO/OIT María Legaristi Royo

The song, produced with the support of the US State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (BPRM) in partnership with UNHCR, has been widely promoted in Bassikounou, Fassala and Mbera through local radio stations and WhatsApp groups that are very active in the region where the refugees live.

Through this song, I hope to make young people really aware of the dangers of COVID-19.

Seyidina Alioune DialloCommunication Officer for the ILO in Mauritania

ILO projects in Mauritania are already working on information packs and radio spots aimed at refugee populations and host communities on topics as varied as health and safety at work, the promotion of vocational training and respect for hygiene measures, which will also be communicated through social networks.

Seyidina Alioune Diallo sits outside and learns the lyrics of the rap song.

Seyidina Alioune Diallo : "Pride is what I feel, pride in being part of this great family that is the ILO and pride in being able to participate in such noble projects as the protection of people. Surrounded by a team and a supervisor who understand the stakes, the importance and the impact of communication, it is a real pleasure to participate at my level in national efforts to raise awareness against the spread of COVID-19."

© ILO/OIT María Legaristi Royo

Through this song, I hope to make young people really aware of the dangers of COVID-19, as well as support the efforts of the projects I’m involved in to continue to train trainees, while protecting them from this health crisis.

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