In March, the World Bank’s Community-Driven Development team consulted Amplio senior program manager Ryan Forbes Morris on ideas and communication strategies for a COVID-19 response in remote regions where there may not be internet. Here are some considerations Morris recommends to strengthen outreach, prevent the spread of infection, and address emerging public health issues that may impact vulnerable populations in rural areas.
1. Leverage existing communication channels
Work with community radio partners and local experts to create and disseminate content. Use existing health hotlines or SMS or IVR channels to answer questions and get your message out.
2. Partner to align COVID-19 response key messages
If you’re planning to create and disseminate content as part of your COVID-19 response, partner with other organizations, government ministries, and local influencers that are working in the same communities—such as district health directors, assemblymen, tribal chiefs, and religious leaders—to align your messages.
3. Identify and promote credible sources
There’s a lot of information (and misinformation) going around, so it’s important to connect people with credible sources. Community media outlets also can have trouble accessing credible sources to inform their content production.
4. Create community feedback loops
There are various ways to create feedback loops between communities, stakeholders, and service providers. This will assure that your interventions are relevant to the people that you’re trying to serve.
5. Go the extra mile to reach vulnerable populations
Think about what you might do differently to reach and address the challenges of some of those most vulnerable demographics, including women, children, people with disabilities, etc.
6. Link community media and district health experts
Community radios have the trust of their communities and can develop culturally appropriate messaging in local languages. Encourage more information sharing and collaboration between community radio journalists and district-level health and agriculture experts.
7. Develop a long-term approach to strengthen community health systems
Think about long-term approaches for knowledge sharing and prevention strategies at the community level.
Read the full article about COVID-19 response in rural communities by Danielle Henry at Global Washington.