In times of crisis, communication is key. From the moment the first cases of the coronavirus appeared in Côte d’Ivoire, it was clear, getting information to the masses that raised awareness, reassured people of safety and provided the right information to Ivorians was vital. Answering the need to quickly communicate to the masses, the U-Report, an interactive platform used by nearly 2,500,000 young people, aged between 20-24 was launched. The dynamic digital media platform engaged young people who were ready to take action for positive change in their community through various tools, partnerships and platforms put in place in the past few years and that are now used for emergency communications.
Community outreach to stop the coronavirus!
U-Reporters conducted outreach activities in 643 sites across the country. Messages focused on key prevention measures to curb the spread of the virus in U-Reporter communities, and U-Reporters held conversations and reached 18,123 people.
In various public places in Abidjan, Odienné and Korhogo, U-Reporters raised awareness about the importance of wearing masks, washing hands, keeping a safe distance between people and all the other prevention measures necessary to curb the pandemic. They distributed 4,000 masks from April to August 2020 and organized a live chat with experts from key stakeholders.
U-Report's contribution has been essential in allowing to respond to the population’s concerns in real time and to persuade them with customised messages. Ongoing interactions with the Government in the implementation of this strategy have optimised efforts to combat COVID-19 in the country.
Provide ressources where the need was important
The U-Reporter visited markets, public transport stations, community gatherings and engaged with individuals to understand the reasons behind the non-observance of the preventative measures. The lack of resources to purchase masks, the denial of the existence of the virus and of its negative outcome, the lack of clean water sources to adopt hand washing practice were among the most common reasons behind the non-observance.
The american people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) invested in the procurement and distribution of protective reusable masks, installation of water points, hand sanitizers, soaps among the targeted communities. The pervasive action on the ground of the U-Reporters supported by UNICEF helped to increase awareness of the disease, defeat fake news, make people cognizant of the risk and of the authenticity of the disease. Without USAID funds all the efforts to build trust and familiarize the communities with the disease, the transmission risks and the protection measures to prevent infection would have been unattainable. The effectiveness of the response has been adapted to the local context to empower communities to own the response and control the COVID-19 pandemic.