BY PROF DR HALIMU SHAURI
Dean, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Pwani University & Consultant Sociologist.
In two of my previous articles on COVID-19 mitigation and de-stigmatization, I have highlighted the use of Reverse Social Network Analysis (RSNA). I am happy that some of the ideas are visibly being adopted and implemented.
I am thankful to cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe and the National Disaster Steering Committee to have been candid and consistent on the behavior of the Kilifi County DG and the Catholic priest Oduor.
Indeed, the revelation of the identities of these two personalities has helped to affirm the relevance and urgency of the use of RSNA in the fight against corona.
However, as I am watching the unfolding of the two cases and the impact they have had in tracing those who came into contact with them; more ideas to enhance the fight are forming.
I have observed and I hope you have too that there is class effect in the spread of COVID-19. That is to mean people of higher class are more dangerous having the virus in terms of spreading it because of their popularity and social mobility.
In my second article, published here and on The Coast Newspaper, I mentioned the possibility of locking down politicians and the clergy.
Observing the social behaviour of this cohort of the population, you realize how risky they are in spreading the virus.
Taking into account the Kilifi DG and the priest’s behavior, one can easily see the impending risk if politicians are not advised to self-quarantine.
Following this observation, I wish to add to my professional contribution to the fight against coronavirus, the idea of SOCIOMETRICS.
These methods qualitatively measure aspects of social relationships, such as social acceptance (i.e., how much an individual is liked by peers), social rejection and social status (i.e., a politicians or clergy social standing in comparison to peers).
Basically, we should ask ourselves questions on who is likely to be consulted for help by many people during this time of COVID-19 outbreak?
Further, given the poverty levels in the country, we need to map these people using Sociometrics methods to determine the most risky scenarios in case of a complete lockdown.
The reason is simple that if we go into complete lockdown, the residence of politicians and clergy may become the rescue centres, bringing back congregations of people.
This social science of relationships (Sociometry) enables us to measure, map and develop relationships so that the invisible forces within an organization are made visible and can be explored.
Sociometry is an essential tool for people to build group networks and positive relationship behaviours.
Thus, we can use it to map group networks of those at-risk and also use those networks of at-risk networks to our advantage of mitigating the spread of the corona virus.
Simply, once we map the networks of politicians and the clergy, we can use the networks to stop further spread of COVID-19 using the World Health Organization and other guidelines out there.
In my view, a complete lockdown will push those who need help more to the political class and the clergy.
In this case we need to have this mapping in advance so that we can plan mitigation. It is time therefore to start now combining RSNA with sociometrics for more effective and efficient mitigation of further spread of the corona virus.
I am convinced that mapping the social networks of those likely to be consulted most using RSNA and sociometrics during this time of the COVID-19 crisis maybe a sure way of controlling further spread of the corona virus.
Thus, combining RSNA and Sociometrics maybe is the panacea to the acceleration of efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
I take this opportunity also to congratulate the disaster coordinating team and all compliant Kenyans to the WHO guidelines, for this war with COVID-19 is a personalized war.
The reason we have to maintain personal hygiene keeping social distance and self-quarantine. It will therefore take efforts, yours and mine individually, and it’s a responsibility of each one of us to overcome COVID-19.