child washing her hands

Using mobile messaging to prevent the spread of COVID-19

Since the first positive case of COVID-19 was reported in Niger on 19 March 2020, World Vision has supported the State of Niger in the fight against the virus through its COVER (COVID-19 Emergency Response) activities. One of the key response activities is raising community awareness on the pandemic. The need to raise awareness is key for World Vision in order to slow the spread of the deadly disease in Niger.

Considering the extent of the territory and measures to limit travel, the use of mobile telephony to disseminate COVID-19 prevention messages was chosen among intervention approaches from the early weeks of the pandemic. The message from Niger's Ministry of Public Health was then translated into local languages: Hausa, Zarma, Fulfulde and Gourmantché.

In partnership with Viamo (a global social enterprise that specialises in mobile engagement and Information and Communication Technology for Development - ICT4D), calls (via the mobile operator Airtel Niger) were made to 1,727 community actors from 24 April to 17 May 2020. This campaign targeted community health workers, children enrolled in World Vision's sponsorship programme who are 18 years and older, community volunteers responsible for monitoring children enrolled in World Vision's sponsorship programme, women leaders of savings and credit groups, children clubs, and child-friendly spaces monitors. These community actors were distributed across World Vision's intervention regions across Niger; namely Diffa, Dosso, Maradi, Niamey, Tahoua, Tillabéry and Zinder.

At the end of the campaign, out of 1,727 numbers targeted with COVID-19 prevention messages (and an evaluation question on the usefulness of the message sent), 1,370 actors answered the calls, while 805 listened to at least 75% of the message. A total of 479 beneficiaries listened to the message until the end and responded to the evaluation question.

It is worth noting that Dosso region has the largest number of beneficiaries reached by calls on the COVID-19 awareness campaign. A total of 202 beneficiaries listened to less than 75% of the message, 144 listened to at least 75% and the remaining 124 beneficiaries were unreachable during the campaign. Tahoua and Diffa regions are the least affected by the awareness campaign, this is explained by the fact that the number of beneficiaries concerned in its two localities is relatively lower than others.

Community health workers were most interested by this awareness campaign on COVID-19. Out of a total of 506 community health workers, 154 listened to less than 75% of the message while 223 listened to at least 75%. As child-friendly space monitors are the minority among the target beneficiary groups, they were the least impacted by the awareness campaign. Eight monitors listened to less than 75% of the message. Seventeen monitors listened to 75% and the remaining 20 monitors were unreachable.

At the end of COVID-19 message, actors were asked a question about the usefulness of the message. Of the 479 community actors who participated in this survey, 90% found the message useful.

This campaign initiated by World Vision's Niger office in partnership with Viamo, made it possible to inform, over a three-week period, a total of 1,370 beneficiaries about COVID-19 prevention measures validated by the Niger Ministry of Public Health. Beneficiaries, by sharing the message received within groups/structures that they lead, have helped to raise awareness among a wider audience so that they can protect themselves from the virus. These results highlight the high amount of attention communities pay to information disseminated to prevent the COVID-19 disease.

With learnings from this campaign and in order to better inform its beneficiaries and optimise the effects of awareness-raising in future, World Vision will compile a refined list of beneficiaries and proceed to a pre-information campaign with its field teams.