Media partners in Kenya kickstart BeACOVID19Hero! campaign
Four radio stations across Kenya’s Kericho, Elgeyo Marakwet, Homa Bay and Nakuru counties launched the BeACOVID19Hero! campaign during the month of October. The campaign sets in motion the regular airing of COVID-19-related radio plugs and public announcements to build collective capacity against the virus.
Throughout the launch period, Department of Health representatives and community influencers participated in radio talk shows to share their insights and experiences with COVID-19. The four radio stations were selected by the WASH First programme team to serve as the radio platforms of the BeACovid19Hero! campaign.
Responsible COVID-19 messaging
In the fight against the spread of COVID–19, mass media has proven to be an effective channel to create awareness and disseminate government safety and preventative orders and guidelines. Mass media also has a role to play in demystifying misconceptions around COVID-19 spread, prevention and recovery. To ensure that only accurate information is disseminated, strengthening the skills of media house owners, managers, and staff to discern real from fake news is critical.
Responding to this need was the WASH First project, implemented by SNV in collaboration with the county governments and CSO networks of Elgeyo Marakwet, Kericho, Nakuru, and Homa Bay. To prepare for the campaign, ten representatives from different media stations were invited to participate in a training workshop. During these workshops, media representatives were introduced to internationally recognised standards of COVID-19 symptoms, spread, prevention measures, as well as ethical considerations to make when reporting about COVID-19. Learning from the workshops were used to identify messaging channels (e.g., radio and social media) and develop an action plan.
Participating media discuss ways to enhance effective COVID-19 communications
Leonard Kimutai, Radio Light and Life News correspondent, Kericho county
‘This is the first-ever training done for media personnel in Kericho County on matters around COVID-19. We have been reporting news on COVID-19 with very little knowledge and facts about the virus. SNV’s WASH First project, in collaboration with the Department of Health, has today empowered us with very critical information about COVID-19. Going forward, I will be confident in sharing information relating to COVID-19 to our listeners.’- Leonard Kimutai, Radio Light and Life News correspondent in Kericho county
County government-media lines of communication
One of the strategies agreed upon during the media training was to open communication lines and enhance collaboration between the media houses, the County Department of Health, and the County Communications Office.
During the training, representatives of media houses observed a communication gap between agencies on the status of COVID-19 in the county, thereby limiting public information sharing. To redress this, communication lines had been improved between the County Department of Health and the media. There is now an easier flow of communications and regular opportunities for dialogue and updates between both entities. Today, media personnel are more explicitly considered as key partners in COVID-19 information dissemination.
County Public Health Officer, Benjamin Kimetto facilitates a session during media training
Local government and SNV representatives come together for first radio show introducing the campaign
‘Over the last two months, Kericho County COVID-19 cases have dropped. We attribute this to the efforts of media in awareness creation and sharing the MOH prevention guidelines,’ said Mr Kimetto, County Public Health Officer.
Key messages being communicated by government, media, and CSOs are, Wash hands regularly | Wear masks correctly | Maintain physical distance | Clean surfaces | Get your COVID-19 vaccine
Not in isolation
While important and highly effective, mass media is not the only channel that the WASH First programme engaged to spread life-saving messages against COVID-19. In households, schools, and the hospitality industry, WASH First partners in government and civil society ensured that similar messages were being conveyed.
By deploying a comprehensive approach, county governments and SNV are confident that county residents will gain better recognition and recall about COVID-19 prevention tips, care and recovery.
Written by: Judy Muriu, WASH Consultant and Reinilde Eppinga
 This blog reports on implementation of two of the five behavioural change components being implemented by SNV’s WASH First team. These include, (1) training of healthcare workers including community health volunteers; county education staff, teaching and non-teaching staff; chiefs and sub-chiefs; and civil society network members; (2) sensitisation campaigns through door-to-door household visits, schools, markets, transport hubs and other public places; (3) mass-media awareness campaigns, using local radio networks and social media; (4) improve access to commodities such as soap and disinfection equipment; and (5) improve access to WASH services and facilities, e.g., handwashing stations and toilets.
For more information, please contact Reinilde Eppinga, WASHFirst Project Manager.