GOAL surveyed 758 people in three districts in Agago in northern Uganda and Bugiri and Namayingo in Eastern Uganda. The results showed the COVID-19 information campaign, funded by Irish Aid, was hugely successful in reaching the vast majority of the target population.
Of the 98% of those surveyed who said they were reached with COVID-19 messaging, 93% said the messaging was timely and met their needs.
The survey showed that the people who were targeted directly and indirectly got their messaging from multiple sources. 91%, said they received messages through radio, 81% through community leaders and 72% through community mobilizers. 58% received IEC (Information, Education and Communication) materials distributed by GOAL team members at boreholes and in local markets.
GOAL Uganda said getting spokespeople on radio talk shows has proved an effective way to share public health messaging. In April, GOAL Project Officer, Musa Kambugu, appeared on a radio talk show in Bugiri District, reaching over 100,000 people with COVID-19 prevention messages.
IEC materials have been particularly useful in communicating prevention messaging in smaller local communities.
Ojok and Okello (pictured), two of GOAL’s beneficiaries, were delighted to come across a COVID-19 messaging poster pinned to a tree in the Yeng Lebi village in Northern Uganda.
Materials like these are displayed and distributed by Village Health Team Members, who receive training from GOAL. This is part of the Community-Led Action approach, which is at the heart of GOAL’s COVID-19 response in its 13 countries of operation. It puts communities at the centre of preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Due to the weak healthcare systems in many GOAL countries of operation, spreading prevention messaging is key to the COVID-19 response.
In May, five of our 13 countries of operation – Uganda, Malawi, Iraq, Niger and Honduras – received funding from Irish Aid’s Emergency Response Fund Scheme (ERFS) to support vulnerable communities in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Case Study: Caroline Alanya as a COVID-19 Community Mobilizer
Mother-of-12 Caroline Alanya is one of 90 Village Health Team members (VHT) who have been trained by GOAL on COVID-19 awareness raising in Agago District in Northern Uganda.
The 52-year-old lives with her children in Acutomer Village in Lira-Palwo Sub-County. She is one of only a few female VHT members in her District promoting good health practices in the home and community.
GOAL Uganda is one of the recognized development partners for Agago District. With support from Irish Aid we have been supporting vulnerable communities with COVID-19 risk communication messages using the Community-Led Action approach. GOAL has trained ten Health Assistance and 90 Village Health Team members in seven sub-counties in Agago District.
The feedback from the communities has been very positive, with people reporting a significant increase in awareness, understanding and behaviours related to COVID-19.
Caroline said that she was initially unsure about attending the training as she was already very busy as the only female VHT in her area. She also had other duties including tending her own vegetable garden. She admits she had not been taking the virus seriously. She said, “I thought if the virus has not yet killed anybody in Uganda then why should the Government subject people to such a harsh life of being in lockdown for three months.”
However, the training has changed Caroline’s thinking, including on how often and well her family and community wash their hands.
“We were trained to wash hands with soap using water for at least 20 seconds. The best way to remember this was by singing one of the verses of the Uganda National Anthem. Before I used to wash my hand phala, phala (local Acholi language meaning hurriedly and not well).”
Caroline says, “With the training I have received I can now mobilize my family and community members on preventing the Coronavirus from reaching our village and sub-county. With this knowledge, we can now fight this virus away from our District and country.”
With her new understanding and confidence on COVID-19, Caroline will be able to share Information Education & Communication (IEC) materials in her community. She will work hand-in-hand with her neighbours to develop action plans to prevent the spread of the virus and maintain good health.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak in Uganda, the Government and development partners have worked to educate the public on the cause, symptoms and prevention of COVID-19. Communication has largely been done remotely through radio stations and other forms of mass media.