Field update: Raising awareness of COVID-19 in Madagascar with music and film

Across the world, Blue Ventures has been mobilising to face the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis amongst the coastal communities that we work with. Whilst some of our team have been repatriated or are having to work from home, many of our field staff are still able to access field sites and provide vital support to the isolated communities with whom we work. 

The main objectives of our field teams are: to reduce community transmission of the virus; to protect the most vulnerable people; to strengthen healthcare systems and support continued delivery of essential services; and to adapt existing livelihood programmes to ensure that communities can sustain channels of income. More information on our response can be found here.

In Madagascar, Blue Ventures’ field staff and community partners have been developing creative ways to communicate COVID-19 public health messages in line with the needs and living context of vulnerable coastal communities. This use of media has evolved into a central aspect of our COVID-19 response; most of the communities with whom we work live in extremely isolated locations, so receiving accurate and up-to-date information can be a challenge. 

Fortunately, Blue Ventures field teams throughout Madagascar live and work with these communities and collaborate closely with community partner associations, so are able to ensure that the right messaging is distributed, and crucially, in a way that speaks to the needs of communities.

In Maintirano, the team have contributed to facilitate the production of a film, showcasing the work that community health workers have been doing during the pandemic. Films featuring community members and raising community voices are a simple way to convey a lot of information at once and engage all members of the community, young and old.

In Ambanja, the team has developed a radio show designed to help communities in the villages where we work understand the virus and how to protect against it. The radio show features community members and representatives from the local health authorities and explores our health-environment approach and the importance of recognising the inextricable link between human health and nature through various local voices. So far, it has been broadcasted on five local radio stations. 

The Ambanja team have also produced a song about COVID-19 prevention, which they’ve played to communities during outreach missions and shared with community health workers on memory cards so they can help spread the message with other communities too.

A still from the music video ‘Corona’, created with community members in Andavadoaka | Photo: Symphorien Nihala Maniry Soa

A still from the music video ‘Corona’, created with community members in Andavadoaka | Photo: Symphorien Nihala Maniry SoaIn Andavadoaka, we have supported students from the local school to write, record and make three songs and music videos about COVID-19. The songs raise awareness of prevention measures, guiding the community on how to socially distance and how often to wash their hands, for example. The music videos have already been screened at one of the villages’ film nights. 

Based on their experience of creating outreach media tools such as music videos, short films and documentaries, Blue Ventures’ community outreach teams know that, because the COVID-19 messaging was made by and with members of the community, they will have more of an impact and raise awareness of the virus and measures to limit it’s spread most effectively.


Read the full blog to learn more about our COVID-19 community outreach work 


*Please note that the header image was taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, before social distancing rules were in place in Madagascar

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