The COVID-19 pandemic came as a shock to the young people, as it had to the whole nation, and these activities had to cease. Initially, the YEPP youth teams were either in denial or extremely afraid of the virus, particularly because of the lack of clarity surrounding how it was spread or could be prevented. Within about one month of the national lockdown, however, the YEPP youth underwent a series of training sessions on COVID-19 awareness. This awareness was then cascaded to other young people and community members accompanied by educative awareness materials. Very rapidly, the YEPP youth became recognised and respected awareness agents on COVID-19. Aside from spreading information on how to stay safe and avoid the disease, the youth also underwent training on how to provide psychosocial support and coping mechanisms in response to the increasing conflict and protection risks emerging due to the pandemic. Community members were given the opportunity to offload their stress and trauma created by the pandemic and the stringent lockdown conditions. This was done through a variety of methods including socially distanced one-on-one sessions, small group meetings and virtual discussions on WhatsApp. The youth were also trained to provide Bereavement, Grief and Loss support to families who had lost loved ones in 2020.
In 2020, 36 YEPP facilitators (16 males and 5 females) were trained in COVID-19 related Psychosocial Support (PSS) Awareness. Altogether, they reached 23,095 people with this PSS Awareness. Of these, 6,928 (3,427 males and 3,501 females) were directly mobilised by the youth. A further 16,167 people were reached through existing groups such as church and community groups whom they had an opportunity to address and support. This mammoth achievement was made possible to the previous years’ training the youth had undergone during the YEPP programme, showing the value of capacity building and response capabilities in the time of crisis.