By Rogers Moraro, Project Officer, HBCC Project
Majority of Kenyans are now aware of COVID-19 and the key measures required to prevent and protect them from infection. However, gaps remain between knowledge and practice as many continue to ignore the set protective measures and guidelines. From the basics of washing and sanitising hands and surfaces to practising physical distancing and wearing face masks, the appetite for proactive and sustained behaviour change has been low.
To address the gaps in behaviour change, Amref Health Africa has rolled out the Hygiene and Behaviour Change Coalition (HBCC) project funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and Unilever to reinforce the behaviour change narrative among high-risk communities in ten counties. Selected because of their high mobility, population, documented COVID-19 incidence or proximity to hotspots, Nairobi, Embu, Meru, Kisii, Siaya, Migori, Homabay, Kakamega, Mombasa and Kwale counties will benefit from the one year project that will run through to April 2021.
The HBCC project seeks to reduce the exposure to COVID-19 at home and in communities through hygiene promotion activities aligned with Unilever behaviour change programs. The project will reinforce the capacities of health workers while reducing hospital-acquired transmission and contamination from health facilities to communities. Through this project, county governments will be equipped to respond to the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) service demands that have been availed for vulnerable groups, exposed collective sites, and public spaces.
COVID-19 response plans are already in place across the ten counties. Where COVID-19 cases have been reported; attention is now shifting to risk communication, community engagement and home-based care. The convergence points of the HBCC project interventions with the county governments will be risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) for behaviour change, capacity building (facility- and community-based), public health measures, infection prevention and control (IPC), clinical management of COVID-19, and societal response.
Behaviour Change Communication Campaign Working with the National Business Compact Coalition (NBCC) secretariat and co-convener, Marketing Society of Kenya and partners Heroes 4 Change, Shujaaz, BRCK, BBDO Media Project and HandsUp, HBCC targets to reach 10 million people across the ten counties.
As a partner on the NBCC, Amref Health Africa is working jointly with the national and county governments to train over 7,200 community-based and facility-based health workers on interactive, targeted content to reach mothers, people with co-morbidities, people living with disabilities and their caregivers, as well as the general public. The campaign will focus on emphasising simple-to-do actions such as the need for regular hand washing, physical distancing, cough etiquette, wearing of masks in public and recognising symptoms and taking corrective action.
To deliver on the program, Amref has engaged respective health, gender and youth departments on local communication channels through which the targeted audiences will be reached. Existing community health structures, mass media and digital information touchpoints have also been mapped including local and national radio and television stations. The identified channels will be used to deploy the behaviour change campaign by the coalition partners for regional and national reach, including among audiences with low literacy levels.