COVID-19 preventative behaviour change campaign pilot in Ethiopia

Seefar’s pilot campaign in six refugee camps in Ethiopia has resulted in more than half of beneficiaries taking active measures to prevent COVID-19 transmission, according to evaluation data. Active measures include avoiding crowded spaces, wearing masks, frequent handwashing and covering coughs and sneezes.

The pilot ran from July to October 2020, and was aimed at reducing COVID-19 transmission in refugee camps in Tigray and Somali regions. Community insights and qualitative interviews with Eritrean and Somali refugees living in refugee camps had previously shown that camp residents were not sufficiently informed about the risks of contracting COVID-19 and lacked information on how to deal with it in the camps.

The campaign also sought to debunk misleading and potentially harmful information on COVID-19 through its online and media outreach. Examples of myths include: hot weather can kill the virus or that COVID-19 can be cured by praying and attending church. The campaign disseminated information on preventative measures against COVID-19 on its Facebook pages and in key media outlets. Through social media outreach and machine learning techniques to maximise viral impressions, the campaign achieved nearly 400,000 post engagements in less than 3 months. 

The campaign was run as part of The Migrant Project, Seefar’s global flagship migration communications campaign. The overall goal of the The Migrant Project is to raise awareness on the risks and realities of irregular migration, so potential migrants are empowered to make safer and more informed decisions. 

The Migrant Project deployed an integrated approach utilising remote phone consultations with word-of-mouth counsellors. These consultations are referred via community volunteers and social media. These consultations are highly impactful in supporting potential migrants to make safer and more informed decisions, with more than half (53%) of consultees saying they have abandoned their irregular migration plans after receiving information from The Migrant Project regarding the risks and realities of the journey and life in destination countries.

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