COVID19 – Kenya: Trusted two-way mass and individual health communications and rapid socio-epidemiological insights

COVID19 – Kenya: Trusted two-way mass and individual health communications and rapid socio-epidemiological insights

The pilot: Interactive radio, risk communications, community engagement and rapid social insights during the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya

On March 8th, 2020 shortly after the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Kenya,  Africa’s Voices partnered with Radio Africa Group to launch a pilot that combined Public Service Announcements (PSAs), interactive radio shows and 1-to-1 SMS communications in order to provide immediate high-quality public health content, establish a trusted communications space and garner rapid social insights on citizen perceptions of risk and preparedness related to COVID-19. The shows, aired nationwide in Kiswahili on Radio Jambo, curate the space for discussion on COVID-19 while SMS interaction is generating citizen-driven insights that inform programming and public health responders. The shows feature Dr Moses Miua Masika, a virologist at the University of Nairobi as an expert guest, focusing on priority issues derived from the citizen messages shared in response to the PSAs.

AVF combines data and technology capabilities with a multilingual team of social science researchers, enabling both human-led analysis of messages and automated visualisation of data for rapid insight generation. Further, Africa’s Voices’ unique 1-to-1 communication capability, katikati, tailors individual WHO-aligned responses in comprehensible local language using an agreed protocol and a short turnaround time (within 24 hours) is being used to respond, at scale, to individual questions sent in by audiences. katikati allows each message to be read and responded to by a human researcher facilitated by machine learning, enabling large volumes of such one-to-one conversations to take place daily without ‘automated messaging’ (bots) that easily build suspicion or disaffection.

The story started two years ago when, with colleagues from the Centre for Governance and Human Rights at the University of Cambridge and with support from Wellcome Trust and DFID,  we evaluated our interactive radio methodology as a tool for rapid research and health communications in the context of the 2017 cholera epidemic that devastated Somalia and the zika virus outbreak in West Africa.

In April 2020, Africa’s Voices expanded the pilot in partnership with Shujaaz (Well Told Story) and Ghetto Radio to raise the knowledge and preparedness of millions of youth in low-income urban settlements in Nairobi. 

Our Kenya project is a pro bono pilot. We’re demonstrating its contribution to the crisis, and hoping to find supporters and partners. So far, we have received in-kind and financial support from the University of Cambridge, Google, Textit and the British Institute of East Africa. Support from others would enable additional investment in planning, media distribution and data collection, massively accelerating the project development, the scale of its reach, and the useful application of arising  data. In Kenya and beyond, across Africa or further, if you’re interested to know more, partner, or contribute, please get in touch: info@africasvoices.org

Weekly insights

With each Radio Jambo show reaching over 5 million listeners, the pilot’s results are extremely encouraging. For a week by week overview click on the links below:

Week 1 – 20 March 2020
2074
participants (who gave consent to have their data analysed), 4095 SMS sent, 1245 questions answered individually

Week 2 – 23-27 March 2020
2790 participants (who gave consent to have their data analysed), 2931 questions answered individually

Week 3 – 29 March- 4 April 2020
2888 participants (who gave consent to have their data analysed), 5959 SMS sent, 3615 questions answered individually

Week 4 – 4-10 April 2020
3348 participants (who gave consent to have their data analysed), 7101 SMS sent, 4792 questions answered individually

Week 5 – 10-17 April 2020
3682 participants (who gave consent to have their data analysed), 7863 SMS sent, 4928 questions answered individually

Week 6 – 20-27 April 2020
967 participants (who gave consent to have their data analysed) in 2 shows (one on Radio Jambo and one on Ghetto Radio) on a specific question:
What are you doing to protect yourself and your families against COVID-19?

Week 7 – 28 April – 3 May 2020
633 participants (who gave consent to have their data analysed) in 2 shows (one on Radio Jambo and one on Ghetto Radio) on a specific question:
What are your thoughts on the governemnt policies for COVID-19? 

Week 8 – 4-10 May 2020
1,462 participants (who gave consent to have their data analysed) in 4 shows (one on Radio Jambo and one on Ghetto Radio) on a specific question:
What are your thoughts on the governemnt policies for COVID-19? 

Week 9 – 11-17 May 2020
586 participants (who gave consent to have their data analysed) in 2 shows (one on Radio Jambo and one on Ghetto Radio) on a specific question:
What is your community doing to help the most vulnerable during coronavirus?