GOAL and mobile advertising company, Promobile, are to target six million people in 40 districts in Zimbabwe with vital COVID-19 awareness messaging in an expanded partnership supported by UNICEF.
The expansion of the mobile messaging campaign to new areas in Zimbabwe follows the success of the GOAL/Promobile partnership which has already seen more than 2.5 million vulnerable people reached with vital COVID-19 messaging in the last six months.
Last April GOAL Zimbabwe entered a unique partnership with Promobile which has seen large mobile units travel through rural and urban communities in Zimbabwe educating vulnerable people on COVID-19 preventative measures such as handwashing, the use of face masks and social distancing.
In addition, the campaign is integrating gender-based violence (GBV) and child protection information, promoting toll-free helplines and information for mothers on screening their children for malnutrition.
The initial contract between Promobile and GOAL was to deliver COVID-19 messaging in Mutare, Chipinge and Harare using three mobile units. But so successful was the campaign, and with Ecobank Zimbabwe coming on board to support, three more vehicles and areas were added. To date, 47 Promobile staff have been involved in the campaign – 27 crew, 4 supervisors, 6 operations staff and 10 head office support.
Under the expansion of the programme with support from UNICEF, the campaign will now reach over six million people in approximately 40 districts. It will be implemented in partnership with UNICEF through support from the Health Development Fund (EU, UKAid, Irish Aid, SIDA, GAVI), USAID, Government of Germany, and the Hygiene and Behaviour Change Coalition (HBCC).
“A powerful and impactful partnership”
GOAL Zimbabwe Country Director, Gabriella Prandini, thanked UNICEF for their support and said the expansion of the campaign with Promobile into additional hotspots will reach many more vulnerable people.
‘‘From the beginning I could see the potential of this collaboration with Promobile in creating awareness around COVID-19 and delivering vital messages as safely as possible. One of the reasons for the success of the campaign is the fact that GOAL and Promobile have the capacity to be agile, adaptable and responsive. We would have never been able to reach as many people directly had it not been for the use of the Promobile team and vehicles, and their expertise in direct contact with communities. The collaboration of our teams at field level has been very successful with everyone working together towards the same goal and objectives,’’ she said.
Prandini added why weaving in messaging on gender-based violence and child protection has been so important: ‘‘As part of our partnership with Promobile, we surveyed over 7,000 individuals in a number of areas during the earlier part of the campaign. The findings in relation to GBV and child protection in particular were quite stark. The results showed that 94% of respondents were unaware of the availability of support lines for GBV, while 80% were unaware of support lines for child abuse. This comes at a time when support groups for GBV survivors were experiencing a significant rise in cases,’’ she added.
John Christou, CEO of Promobile, said that at the start of COVID-19 he saw his own business struggling as commercial contracts with big multi-national companies came to a halt due to movement restrictions. The CEO then reached out GOAL Zimbabwe after hearing about the work GOAL was doing in and around Manicaland.
He said: “I have long questioned the corporate social responsibility mantra that all multi-nationals try to adopt and asked why it isn’t built in to every company’s DNA. The consumers that buy products from companies are the very same consumers that we are talking to with GOAL. Surely, if you interact with them and endear yourself to them in personal needs and key areas such as gender-based violence, HIV, hunger, disaster relief etc. they will not forget you. They will be grateful and appreciate what you have done for them, their family and their community.”
Mr Christou added: “COVID-19 has hopefully changed that thinking and, just like it brought Promobile and GOAL together, we may be able to change mindsets at boardroom level as well. Our partnership is a great testament to the adage “build it and they will come”. We have created a powerful and impactful partnership.”
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services
Aidan Cronin, UNICEF Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, said it is critical for marginalised communities to have access to critical information on handwashing and social distancing to help protect themselves and their families.
“Providing safe water, sanitation and hygienic services is essential to protecting human health during all infectious disease outbreaks, including COVID-19. I am delighted that through GOAL, we have managed to provide people with critical information on handwashing and other hygienic requirements that mitigate against this highly infectious disease.”
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March, GOAL Zimbabwe has used other platforms as well as Promobile to create COVID-19 awareness. They have reached over 4.5 million vulnerable people through a radio ad campaign funded by Irish Aid and has also been active on social media.