Report: Engaging Communities through the Coronavirus Crisis
Publication15 January 2021
As the number of confirmed cases in Malawi rises, and despite the best efforts of national and local authorities, UN agencies and NGOs to sensitise and promote appropriate behaviour change, most Malawians have relaxed their observance of public health guidance (hand-washing, avoiding handshaking and social distancing). Reasons for this decreased adherence to public health advice are hard to determine but there appears to be three broad categories of understanding of Coronavirus among people, even within the same communities. A first group of people know very little about Coronavirus besides its name (Group 1). A second group have heard and understood the public health messages and now want more specifics about the disease and how it is transmitted (Group 2), while a third group have a good understanding of how Coronavirus is transmitted and a desire to take action but lack knowledge and confidence on what feasible actions they can take to protect themselves, their loved ones and convince others around them to do the same (Group 3).
This report, by Community Engagement Specialist Evin Joyce, analyses feedback received from communities in Zomba District, Malawi, in May 2020, underlines challenges and makes recommendations to interested actors on how they can improve the impact of current Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) interventions, and seeks to propose high-impact, low-cost, scalable RCCE activities adapted to the Coronavirus crisis. These activities can lay the foundation for sustained community engagement that will support communities' longer-term development goals.
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