Wellcome Trust: Rapid Social Analysis for Health Interventions against Cholera in Somalia

AVF is conducting research and analysis into perceptions of cholera in outbreak regions in Southern Somalia

Wellcome Trust: Rapid Social Analysis for Health Interventions against Cholera in Somalia

Southern Somalia has recently been affected by recent outbreaks of cholera. To better inform emergency health intervention programmes, AVF is collaborating with researchers at the University of Cambridge’s Centre of Governance and Human Rights to test and deploy its analysis of perceptions around cholera in these regions.

The current project is part of a two-phase piece of work funded by Wellcome Trust and the Department for International Development (DfID), focusing on infectious disease outbreaks and emergency contexts. The first phase was completed in Cape Verde in 2017 and focused on Zika. The second phase, which is planned for the period March – October 2018, centres around cholera in Somalia.

The humanitarian crisis in Somalia has deteriorated recently due to four consecutive poor rainy seasons spanning 2016-17. In 2017 Somalia experienced the worst cholera outbreak in five years, with over 79,000 cases and over 1,100 deaths, mainly among children under five years (1).  In the same year, the first ever national cholera vaccination drive was implemented to help contain the outbreak. The most recent report from the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization have reported over 1,470 cumulative cases of acute watery diarrhoea and nine deaths since December 2017 (2). Longitudinal analysis of case reports confirms that despite many years of public health interventions, cholera remains a recurring and major risk to vulnerable communities in the country.


Building on our established partnership with Media INK and previous work with UNICEF, this project evaluates interactive radio and SMS as a means of understanding perceptions of cholera risk and preparedness among communities in the South Central Zone of Somalia, considering that this data could serve as an early warning ahead of an outbreak but also point to specific socio-cultural factors that could influence a programmatic intervention during a cholera outbreak.

This study will use an interactive radio and SMS method to collect data on local beliefs and perceptions on cholera risk and cholera preparedness in addition to individual practice and demographic data. The study will focus specifically on communities in Mogadishu, Kismayo, Baidoa, and Beledweyne as the most recent Ministry of Health and World Health Organization epidemiological bulletin highlighted new cases of cholera in these areas. Furthermore, recent flooding has increased the risk of a cholera outbreak in these areas.

In addition to the interactive radio shows we will also work with the Somali Disaster Resilience Institute (SDRI) to collect identical data from focus groups and call centres in Mogadishu during the same time period. This will allow us to validate data collected via the interactive radio by comparing it to data from the other two sources. Data collection will take place in July and August 2018.

Project Team: Dr Johanna Riha (Project Lead, University of Cambridge), Dr Sharath Srinivasan (Principal Investigator, Cambridge), Dr Claudia Abreu Lopes (Senior Research Advisor), Naima Ibrahim (Research Officer), Hibbo Ahmed Gabeire (Research Assistant), MediaINK (Media partner), SDRI (Local Research Partner)



(1) DREF operation final report Somalia: Acute Watery Diarrhoea (AWD) outbreak. https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/DREF final report_MDRSO006_151017.pdf. Accessed 20th March 2018.

(2) World Health Organization Epidemiological Bulleting Week 10 2018 – Somalia. https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/week_10_epidemiological_bulettin.pdf. Accessed 26th March 2018.