Drawing on the knowledge and experience of communities, particularly community leaders, is critical in ensuring that the actions we take have an effective and lasting impact. The Community Action on Zika project (CAZ), implemented by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Save the Children, actively sought inputs and feedback from a variety of community members to evaluate if the materials developed for the prevention of Zika virus are easily understood, appropriate and can be utilised.
The Honduran Red Cross have been working together with community representatives, including young people, elderly people and pregnant women, to review and validate key Zika prevention messages.
Doris Rodríguez, Education Specialist at the Honduran Red Cross, explains: “The importance of validating messages with communities is clear, since it is them that disseminates the messages, that have to be understood and approved by them. It is only in this way that we can achieve what we want so much as a project, and that is a change in behaviour”.
In the workshops held in Villanueva and Omoa in May 2018, participants received materials with messages that the Red Cross intends to provide to the communities in order to educate and achieve a lasting behaviour change among the population, especially in relation to personal protection against mosquitoes and care and support actions for babies affected by Zika and their families.
The groups were encouraged to comment freely on the vocabulary, messages and drawings presented in the materials and together they made the following recommendations:
- Develop materials for different audiences, for example, developing a version for young people and another for women, giving greater focus to specific issues, especially in the case of pregnant women;
- Use images or drawings that are both attractive, to draw the attention of people, and simple and easy to understand, so that key messages are reinforced with visual elements;
- Adapt the vocabulary of the materials to the local context. Some words are only used in one community while another may use another word for the same thing.
“The process of validating the messages has been very important because when we work in communities we have to arrive with a methodology that can be understood. This approach allows us to consider common knowledge and use words and explanations that people can understand, so that we can really do prevention work” commented Mayra Bermúdez, representative of the Municipality of Portería, who participated in the workshop.
Following on from this activity, the Honduran Red Cross will adjust the materials of the CAZ project using recommendations received by the participants and will validate them with the Ministry of Health to disseminate them in the communities.
This activity has been possible thanks to the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and was carried out in partnership with Save the Children.