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Celebrities join nation-wide movement to combat COVID-19
Celebrities join nation-wide movement to combat COVID-19

A case study by the National Sanitation Campaign in Tanzania

Astrid Hasund Thorseth avatar
Written by Astrid Hasund Thorseth
Updated over a week ago

Country and region: Tanzania

Organisation: Ministry of Health, Tanzania and Project CLEAR Consortium (a collection of organisations ranging from LSHTM to local media companies)

Point person and Role: Kaposo Mwambuli, Director of Project CLEAR

Population served by the programme: 56 million (Tanzanian national population)

Unique characteristics of the setting: This is a national-scale behaviour change campaign directed by the government that has been running since 2017. It operates with technical advice from the Project CLEAR Consortium and involves mass and social media. The existing campaign is primarily focused on improving sanitation and hygiene practices. At the direction of the Tanzanian Ministry of Health, the campaign changed focus to COVID-19 prevention in March 2020.

Number of cases and deaths due to COVID-19 at time of publishing: 509 cases and 21 deaths

Image: Mrisho Mpoto, Musical artist (Left). Rose Mworia, Head of VODACOM Foundation (Right)

Briefly describe the key components of your COVID-19 response programme.

The National Sanitation Campaign, named Nyumba Ni Choo, began its coronavirus response in March 2020. The campaign joined the World Health Organisation’s #SafeHands challenge in collaborating with celebrities from a wide range of sectors (including football players, musical artists, government officials and fashion models) to demonstrate good hand washing practice and encourage people to practice it regularly. Several of the celebrities also serve as campaign spokespeople.

The on-the-ground campaign was joined in person in April by Anyitike Mwakitalima, Head of the Water and Sanitation Unit from the MoHCDGEC. Anyitike and the campaign team conducted outreach in four regions of Tanzania, visiting local communities and raising awareness of the importance of handwashing with soap. The team met with the local population, religious leaders, business owners and local government officials while organising physically-distanced discussions and gathering testimonies of people’s experience of the escalating pandemic. The visits were covered by the media and footage was aired on national television and radio and shared in newspapers and on social media.

What process did you use when designing your COVID-19 response programme?

The campaign engaged a creative team who met and brainstormed ideas for the COVID-19 response. The creative team consisted of advertising creatives, social and behaviour change scientists, media and marketing specialists and television producers. We also invited design consultants from India to bring fresh perspectives to the table.

Image description: The campaign features everyday people, such as local tuk-tuk drivers (left) and celebrities such as Sylvia Mkomwa (right), a finalist in the 2017 Miss Universe Tanzania competition.

The creative team met regularly to create and adapt content as the local outbreak changed. While the focus from March - June 2020 was mainly on handwashing with soap and mask use, the focus is now on physical distancing. This shift was made based on government recommendations which urged the campaign to encourage physical distancing as a key protective behaviour. The campaign re-purposed its tag line ‘Usichukulie Poa, Nyumba ni Choo’ (Do not take it for granted, your house is not complete without a proper toilet) to ‘Usichukulie Poa, Unategemewa’ (‘Do not take it for granted, Every individual is important and you are depended upon’). The campaign created a symbol to represent this message, demonstrated in the picture above. The “U” shape symbolises the word “Unategemewa” from the new campaign tag line. The two hands symbolise two people standing apart (physical distancing) but joined together in a collaborative effort to fight the virus. The idea with this re-branding was to highlight the importance of all Tanzanians working together to combat COVID-19.

What is one thing that has been working really well so far and is there something other programmes could learn from this?

The multisectoral collaboration between the funder (FCDO), campaign management (Project CLEAR consortium) and the government (Ministry of Health Tanzania) has enabled the campaign to adapt swiftly. Direct government involvement ensures that scale can be maintained and gives authority to the messaging as well. The recognition we had built with our existing campaign, and the collaboration between partners, allowed us to build on the strengths of this and respond in a timely manner. This enabled the campaign to engage with high-level officials and celebrities with large online audiences joining and endorsing the campaign.

Video description: Anyitike Mwakitalima, Head of the Water and Sanitation Unit from the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children joined artist Mrisho Mpoto in Songwe, Mbeya, Dar es Salaam and Pwani regions raising awareness of COVID-19 and the importance of Handwashing in April 2020.

What is one challenge that you have encountered and how are you trying to overcome this?

The team had to combat some administrative restrictions that delayed the release of funds to the campaign. Nonetheless, the consortium and its partners acted swiftly and launched a comprehensive response in March 2020.

How have you been engaging communities throughout your programme and what feedback have you received?

Because of the need to act quickly, initial response strategies were based on current knowledge and utilised the platforms and connections already established by the consortium since its inception in 2017. The campaign has engaged the market research company Geopoll in conducting a rapid SMS-based KAP survey to gain insights into coronavirus in Tanzania. The survey will be repeated 3 times, three months apart. Furthermore, the campaign is conducting a formative research study using qualitative telephone interviews to gain insights into perceptions and experiences of COVID-19 in Tanzania. The results from these studies will inform the launch of the official COVID-19 campaign in July 2020.

See more of the content from the campaign on their social media:

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