This entry covers the awareness activities within the ATRAP project from November 2 to November 10, 2021.
The main goal of these activities was to reduce risky behaviour of the communities in Kagadi and Ntoroko districts around Lake Albert in western Uganda by informing them on schistosomiasis risks, symptoms and preventive measures, with the overall aim to reduce the burden of this neglected disease.
Fig. 1. Overview of the awareness week components.
Concept of the community-driven awareness campaign directed by the citizen scientists and the ATRAP team:
To increase community resilience in preventing bilharzia by putting the citizen scientists in charge of the awareness campaign. Hence, in the weeks before the actual campaign, the communities and citizen scientists were informed on the outcome of the KAP results obtained by our ATRAP PhD student Maxson Anyolitho.
These results included the knowledge gaps on symptoms, diagnosis and preventive measures, the existing myths and taboos and the barriers to uptake of the preventive measures. In focus group discussions the following questions were addressed with the aim to co-create contextualised communication strategies for bilharzia prevention:
What key messages on schistosomiasis prevention can be communicated and how best can the messages be communicated to the communities of western Uganda?
What are the current and preferred sources of information for the communication of schistosomiasis prevention strategies for communities of western Uganda?
What is the role of media (technology) in communicating schistosomiasis prevention messages to the communities of western Uganda?
What is the role of citizen scientists in communicating schistosomiasis prevention messages to the communities of western Uganda?
These strategies were then applied during the community-led awareness campaign early November.
Awareness raising program
Day 1 (November 5)
- Activity: Community announcements on megaphones and community radios on KAPs messages in Bwikara and Mpeefu.
Fig. 1. Left: Citizen researchers and ATRAP team from Uganda at the beginning of the activity in Bwikara. Right: Kid reading the flyer put by the citizen researchers.
Fig. 2a. Dynamic awareness raising about schistosomiasis during the door to door visits by the citizen researchers in Mpeefu.
Fig. 2b. Dynamic awareness raising about schistosomiasis during the door to door visits by the citizen researchers in Mpeefu.
Day 2 (November 6)
Activity: Community announcements on megaphones and community radios on KAPs messages in Kyaterekera and Ndaiga
Fig. 3. Left: Tine prepared for an exciting day in Ndaiga. Right: Children paying attention to the explanation of the citizen researchers in Kyaterekera.
Day 3 (November 8)
- Activity: Plays and traditional songs, Skit/drama play to debunk myths and misconceptions regarding schistosomiasis, stigma, discrimination, and gender-based violence.
Fig. 4. Left: Citizen researchers announcing the start of the play in Kanara. Right: Demystifying misconceptions about schistosomiasis through the play.
Day 4 (November 9)
- Activity: Community match in Kyaterekera sub-county to raise awareness on KAPs, WASH, myths, and misconceptions. The citizen scientists from the different sub counties formed the ATRAP football team and entered in the competition with the other teams. During the game, messages on bilharzia symptoms, risks, prevention and existing taboos and misconceptions were spread using flyers and using communication over the megaphone.
Fig. 5. Left: Inauguration of the football match in Kyaterekera subcounty. Right: Citizen researcher taking pictures of the match.
Fig. 6. Left: ATRAP team providing water to the players. Right: Spreading of schistosomiasis information through flyers.
Activity: Live radio talk show on KAPs, WASH, myths, misconceptions, advocacy regarding schistosomiasis moderated by a citizen scientist interviewing the ATRAP team. Listeners could call during the show with questions on schistosomiasis.
Fig. 7. Radio talk show in Kagadi city.
Day 5 (November 10)
- Activity: A stakeholder dialogue workshop was organized to introduce the citizen science concept and to present the most important findings by the ATRAP PhD students. Five citizen researchers were invited to present their experiences as citizen scientists and express their view on the problems related to schistosomiasis in their communities. They advocated, amongst others, for provision of clean and safe water and higher latrine coverage around the lake area. Break-out sessions were organised where citizen scientists, policy makers and NGO representatives drafted together recommendations for the policy brief on schistosomiasis.
Fig. 8. Left: Stakeholders and citizen researchers discussing problems and solutions regarding schistosomiasis persistence around Lake Albert. Right: Authority from the Kagadi district expressing his gratitude for organising the ATRAP project in his district.
Thank you to all the community members for the fruitful experience!
- ATRAP TEAM