Public Health and Vaccine Communication at Scale (VACS)

Boosting vaccine confidence across sub-Saharan Africa

Credit: Nebiyu Yetsedaw/FRI

Public Health and Vaccine Communication at Scale (VACS)

Boosting vaccine confidence across sub-Saharan Africa

The context

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic requires exceptional communication efforts, especially in sub-Saharan Africa where access to quality information and communication is critically low, particularly among women and under-served groups. It is urgent that efforts to counter misinformation, increase vaccine confidence, and support demand (where vaccines are available) are done in a timely and gender-responsive manner for rural communities. Vaccine inequality is emerging as a global issue with increasing awareness of the importance of getting the pandemic under control everywhere, including increasing vaccination rates in sub-Saharan Africa.

Our approach

We know that radio is the most relied on source of information in the countries we serve. Because of this, and because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Farm Radio International is using a network-approach to run public health and vaccine confidence campaigns at a massive scale, reaching as many as 25-50 million people across sub-Saharan Africa.

Through the VACS project, we are working with our existing radio partners — stations and broadcasters that we have worked to provide resources, trainings and facilitate discussions with — to coordinate radio campaigns in 16 countries. The end goal is continuing COVID-19 protection, boosting vaccine confidence (where vaccines are available), and encouraging gender equality in COVID-19 responses.

Through national campaigns, supported by resources developed in more than 20 languages by Farm Radio, radio stations within the Farm Radio network will develop and run COVID-19 campaigns, matching both local needs and realities with the national and international goal of ending the pandemic.

The campaigns will use the unique reach of radio combined with real-time feedback offered by mobile phones to increase access to life-saving, gender-responsive information about the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Our goals



Radio stations delivering gender-responsive interactive radio on COVID-19 health measures.


People reached (12 million women) with interactive information platforms.


Increase in people following public health measures, including vaccination

Gender equality and inclusion

Vaccine and public health access affects people differently — for example along gender or other social factors like disability, age or migration status. The health needs of and barriers preventing a person from accessing health services, information or from getting vaccinated are distinct for, for instance, women compared to men, different for a young woman to an elderly woman, or still differently for a woman with a disability. The training and resources we offer for broadcasters will take this into account, ensuring the information touches on all of these issues, and that broadcasters take these complex realities into consideration continuously. We will ensure that support provided to broadcasters is grounded in local realities regarding social inequalities by partnering with local women’s rights and women-led organizations. It is integral that the VACS project be based in and that it recognizes the efforts and expertise of local civil society. Through these partnerships we will develop national campaigns and inform e-discussions for broadcasters so they can meet the varying needs of their diverse audiences.

in partnership with canada

Project snapshot

  • Duration: 9 months, 2022
  • Budget: $1,050,000 CAD
  • Radio stations: 200
  • Languages: Amharic, Bambara, Baoulé, Bemba, Chichewa/Chinyanja, Ciuté, Dholuo, Dioula, English, French, Hausa, Kabyè, Kiswahili, Krio, Mooré, Oromo, Portuguese, Pulaar/Peulh/Fouladou, Sénoufo, Sena, Sonrhai, Tanzanian Swahili, Wolof, Yoruba

“We know vaccine inequity is a global issue. So is misinformation and disinformation. Radio is an important tool to keep underserved communities safe as we hope the COVID-19 pandemic winds to an end.”

Ian Pringle,
Director of Programs, Farm Radio International

Project goals

The VACS project has three main objectives: 

  1. Continuous support to public health in the prevention of COVID-19
  2. Boosting vaccine confidence and the number of people following public-health measures through national campaigns
  3. Continuing to improve gender equality

Through radio campaigns across 16 countries, radio stations will integrate vaccine confidence, public health and gender equality messages across their programming, thanks to coordination and resources provided by Farm Radio International teams. Broadcasters, health officials and gender experts will work together to create radio programming that serves to protect communities in sub-Saharan Africa against COVID-19. 

Using our Uliza Polling technology, which can send push text messages and that listeners can call using interactive voice response technology, we will survey listeners throughout the project to ensure radio campaigns stay locally relevant and effective. We will also conduct remote and mobile-based Geopoll surveys to determine the effectiveness of the campaigns.