The next phase: Agile communication and community engagement for COVID-19 resilience

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the development world in so many ways. If someone had told us a year ago what our work would look like today, we would not have believed them. Now, a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, well into the second wave, with new strains and vaccines being distributed, there is still fear, vaccine scarcity, questions about distribution and so much more. In the context of rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa, these factors pose unique challenges. Communication for Development methods provide an opportunity to ensure rural populations can stay protected as we continue onto the second year of this global crisis.

Our webinar, The next phase: Agile communication and community engagement for COVID-19 resilience, delved into these topics thanks to a panel of insightful speakers who are tackling these issues in innovative ways and at a pace we have rarely seen before.

Watch the webinar now:

There were many excellent reflections on both the past year of COVID-19, and discussion about what is next for the international community when it comes to fighting the disease using information.

As Andy Pattison, of the World Health Organization, succinctly put it when referring to WHO’s digital strategies:

“We’re not trying to drag people onto WHO’s channel, what we are trying to do is get our content into people’s existing channels.”

It’s an important quote to consider as we look forward to this next phase of Communication for Development work in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speakers

We would like to extend a thank you to everyone who participated, the organizers, and our panel of insightful speakers:

Mariana Palavra, Communication for Development Specialist (Humanitarian Preparedness & Response), UNICEF

Mariana emphasized the power of local communities. As we look forward, she told us that it’s important that we listen to and respect these communities, and empower them to enact their own solutions.

Sulakshana Gupta, Regional Director for Southern Africa, Viamo

Sulakshana remarked on the increased willingness — and necessity — to leverage digital solutions across multiple communication channels when developing projects.

Andy Pattison, Team Lead, Digital Channels, World Health Organization

Andy also noted that future efforts need to be localized, collaborative, and respectful of local communities. He called on organizations and the private sector to collaborate widely, quickly and altruistically.

Benjamin Fiafor, Country Representative, Ghana, Farm Radio International

Benjamin also stressed the need for partnership and collaboration, saying that radio, mobile phones, and other great digital tools, allow for wide reach with hyper local information, while also being adaptive and responsive to changing community needs.

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