In response to COVID-19 in Ethiopia, the Amref Youth Advisory Group (AYAG) mobilized to launch a community outreach initiative to increase the awareness of communities on COVID-19, and promote prevention through behavior change informed by risk communication and community engagement.
The AYAG’s COVID-19 community outreach initiative took to the streets to maximize the reach of mass messaging on the importance of frequent hand washing, social distancing, and wearing a mask in all public places, as recommended by the WHO. They targeted densely populated markets and public spaces to counter disinformation by delivering fact-based messaging on virus transmission, prevention, and how to access services such as testing and toll-free call centres. These messages were disseminated by the AYAG members in person, using megaphones, not only to educate the community on COVID-19, but also to make a call to action for the community to take precaution as best as possible.
A recent rise in sexual violence against children in Ethiopia has led the AYAG to make raising awareness on sexual violence in the context of COVID-19 a priority. The AYAG’s community outreach initiative has echoed key messages of ‘No More Violence against Girls and Women’ in nine sub-cities of Addis Ababa to increase awareness on the rise of gender-based violence (GBV), an unintended impact of COVID-19, and to encourage individuals to speak out and challenge GBV in their communities. Through this initiative, more than 225,000 people were reached during community outreach in July and September.
The AYAG was established with a strong spirit of social impact and demand for active participation in decision making affecting youth. Their involvement in community-level COVID-19 response and anti-sexual violence organizing is a prime example of a youth-responsive approach, shifting practice norms away from working for young people to working in partnership with young people.
Amref Health Africa teams up with African communities to create lasting health change.