Communicating for a successful SMC campaign
The effectiveness of a communication strategy relies inter alia on its ability to adapt to the socio-economic, cultural, political and institutional framework in which it is implemented. In order to ensure effectiveness, legitimacy and credibility, Speak Up Africa is working with four of the seven ACCESS-SMC countries to develop a communication strategy and tools that involves target communities from the outset.
In order to facilitate the design of an evidence-based communication strategy that is adapted to the diverse cultural and political environments in which the ACCESS-SMC project is implemented, Speak Up Africa has carried out surveys in Guinea, Mali, Niger and The Gambia to identify the knowledge, attitudes, behaviours and practices of target communities on issues relating to malaria and seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC). The success of a communication campaign is not only reliant on the participation of beneficiaries and the understanding of their awareness and beliefs, but it is also of utmost importance to harmonize the communication of various actors at regional and national level, instrumental to the success of the SMC campaign. In this way, a synergy of action and an amplified impact can be achieved.
Speak Up Africa has worked with the National Malaria Control Programs and health districts to launch local media campaigns through selected community radios that will air key messages about the SMC campaign in local languages. 43 community radio stations in Mali, 21 in Niger, 8 in Guinea and 6 in The Gambia have been selected to highlight key messages about SMC as well as give practical information on the campaign that will take place until November. To monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of the mass media campaign, listening groups have been formed to periodically transmit reports on radio distribution.
To further strengthen the mass media component, social mobilization and advocacy activities have also been initiated. Information sessions are being held in Mali and Niger, bringing together traditional and religious leaders, administrative authorities and elected officials. These sessions aim to catalyze the involvement of opinion leaders around the SMC campaign.
In Guinea, Speak Up Africa and the NMCP opted for community forums followed by radio shows, open to the public, to promote SMC within communities. These forums serve to further engage local administrative and religious leaders as well as local journalists.
Finally, in The Gambia, awareness raising and training sessions will be held with traditional communicators and religious leaders. Traditional communicators will be used to highlight the key messages of the SMC campaign in their respective villages.
At the end of each cycle, these efforts will be evaluated to understand their impact and results and modified accordingly in preparation for the subsequent cycle.
 Guinea, Mali, Niger, The Gambia