COVID-19 messages resonate with key audiences in Georgia, thanks to WHO audience research

Behavioural insights surveys conducted by the WHO Country Office in Georgia have led the way to better understanding the needs of key audiences in the country.

WHO/Europe directly supports 17 Member States and territories in conducting behavioural insights surveys, using a standard but adaptable tool, to gain the kind of insights into peoples’ perceptions that can help target how information is shared. The WHO Country Office in Georgia was the first country in the Region to conduct these surveys and continues to innovate in using the data they collect.

“The behavioural insights tool helped us to target the information and guided us on how to share it,” said Kakha Gvinianidze, WHO National Professional Officer in Georgia, who explains that the results from the first 3 rounds of data collection at the national level led them to conduct a 4th round, focusing on 2 specific regions, Kvemo Kartli and Samtskhe-Javakheti.

“We had an idea that the people in these regions would need information in Azerbaijani and Armenian, but the survey results confirmed this for us, along with many other important aspects, including the fact that people there were less aware about the virus and had lower risk perception,” reported Mr Gvinianidze. The team also learned that national television, where many campaigns are broadcast, was less popular, and overall satisfaction with the information received was lower than in the national-level surveys.

Language, local influencers and inclusivity

These insights allowed the team in Georgia – led by WHO, the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) – to target their actions to the specific needs of people living in these regions.

Using the results from the behavioural insights tool, the team in Georgia identified 3 key areas for specific focus: 1) using the language that people use; 2) engaging with local influencers and networks; and 3) creating messages that inspire inclusion, such as “No one is 100% safe from the virus” and “Let’s defeat COVID-19 together”.

Next, the WHO Country Office shared their behavioural insights findings with the municipal authorities in Kvemo Kartli and Samtskhe-Javakheti, as well as with the Ministry of Health and NCDC. These key stakeholders then provided feedback on how best to translate this data into actionable messages and interventions.

No-rules fighter and a singer promoting COVID-19 messages

A famous “no-rules” fighter agreed to appear in posters in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region, wearing a facemask and reinforcing COVID-19 safety messages. Similarly, in the Kvemo Kartli region, a well-known singer joined with many respected writers, teachers and other cultural figures to create and adapt COVID-19 messages.

The WHO Country Office, with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), created a short video featuring these local influencers, who also feature in a television clip and on digital billboards in the cities of Marneuli, Bolnisi and Gardabani, Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda. In addition, bilingual posters have been put up on public transport, at tea houses, bazars and bus stations, and in other public settings.

Silviu Domente, WHO Representative in Georgia, says the initiative was very well received. “The behavioural insights tool helps us to better target the information campaigns and more efficiently use the available resources,” he says, noting that the project in Georgia is funded by WHO, UNICEF, and the European Union Solidarity for Health initiative in 6 countries of the Eastern Partnership.

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