People-led COVID-19 campaign reached half a million Kenyans

Detailed steps for handwashing are added onto facilities to help embed proper user practice

From engaging 9,000 people to reaching close to half a million, learn how the Dutch government-funded WASH First programme facilitated the systematic messaging and communication of appropriate COVID-19 information to limit disease spread, eliminate COVID stigma, and strengthen COVID caregiving practice and solidarity networks.

Between September 2020 and November 2021, SNV in Kenya supported local communities and governments to accelerate COVID-19 awareness-raising campaigns in the counties of Kericho, Elgeyo Marakwet, Homa Bay, and Nakuru. Titled #BeACOVID19Hero, the campaign focused on high-risk areas to help minimise the impact of lock downs on daily life. The campaign – designed by SNV with partners – builds on SNV’s long-term experience in developing and implementing behavioural change communication (BCC)  campaigns across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Read and listen to what local government officials, civil society networks, community/school/market leaders, and SNV staff have to say about their experience rolling out the BCC campaign in the four counties.

Bringing COVID-19 messages closer to home: Community health volunteers, known as CHVs in Kenya, were trained to engage in a door-to-door campaign in high-risk areas to speak about the benefits of handwashing and other COVID-19 prevention measures. The CHV-led door-to-door campaign reached over 50,000 people and distributed 1,200 handwashing facilities and soaps to vulnerable households, including those with members living with disability.

Reducing COVID-19 concerns in markets and transport hubs: Market committees and SACCO (Savings & Credit Cooperative Organisation) members were trained to champion continuous COVID-19 awareness raising initiatives and ensure the proper upkeep of newly installed handwashing facilities in key public areas. Simultaneously, educational caravans were organised, and disinfection equipment were distributed.

Working with schools to deliver: Across the four counties, teaching and non-teaching staff in 383 schools were sensitised on prevention strategies, including the hygienic maintenance of new handwashing facilities delivered to the schools. In addition to facility delivery and soap distribution, sex-segregated toilet facilities and handwashing facilities and soap were installed in four schools.

Visualising and repeating life-saving hygiene messages: Beyond the interpersonal communication strategy taken in COVID-19 prevention sensitisation processes, a wide range of information, education, and communication (IEC) materials were developed to give the #BeACOVID19 Hero campaign a face.

Joining the partnership were mainstream media radio partners and artists playing to the tune of #BeACOVID19Hero.

For behaviour change to become the norm, repetition is key. Through the campaign’s IEC materials and the engaging tune of #BeACOVID19Hero, the partners of this one-year project hope that life-saving messages of hygiene and solidarity do not only become practice for the half a million people reached. But for these messages to go to scale and encourage more people to take up good sanitation and hygiene practice for their own health, their respective communities, and the environment.

More information
1. This blog was prepared as part of the WASH First: Scaling WASH SDG efforts multi-country project supported by the Netherlands government. Project implementation in Kenya was managed by SNV's Reinilde Eppinga.
2. Written documentation of WASH First's experience implementing the BCC project is also available. Read documentation on community health volunteer mobilisation | BCC implementation in schools | BCC campaign partnership with media in Kenya
3. For more information about SNV's work in the Water sector in Kenya, contact the Water team by email