Young South African men are less likely to be hospitalised and severely affected by COVID-19 and are therefore less likely to take preventative measures, according to preliminary research from the United Nations Verified initiative. With pandemic fatigue on the rise in South Africa, this group is also less inclined to follow safety guidelines – making them especially important in the spread of infections.
This research has formed the basis for a new campaign from the United Nations Verified initiative, Zwakala, which aims to increase the willingness of young people to adhere to COVID-19 safety measures in South Africa.
With lockdown restrictions being eased, the Zwakala campaign, which was launched in Khayelitsha, Western Cape, seeks to reframe the narrative around mask wearing and handwashing into a symbol of leadership, protection of loved ones, and strength. It champions people from the community who are proudly taking these steps, highlighting personal responsibility in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
MultiChoice has partnered with the United Nations Verified for the Zwakala campaign.
“MultiChoice believes in the transformative power of media, and we are supporting Verified to amplify its communication on COVID-19. We are enabling them to increase awareness and steer key conversations and education around prevention measures through public service announcements and by driving the conversation across our social media platforms.”Joe Heshu, Head of Corporate Affairs, MultiChoice Group
Zwakala is being driven by social media and public service announcements (PSAs) on DStv, alongside community activations.
Using powerful and evocative creative elements, together with the PSAs developed by interns from the MultiChoice Talent Factory, the Zwakala campaign aims to get young people who are fatigued by adhering to COVID-19 rules to demonstrate their support for mask wearing and handwashing, modelling safe behaviour practices for themselves and others.
The campaign will be broken down into two engagement steps: the first phase will focus on building community trust and support, while the second phase will move to community engagement with more on-the-ground tactics. On International Youth Day on 12 August young men and women who have been leading and serving their communities and families by acting as role models during the pandemic will be celebrated.
Mask-wearing and hand washing (where feasible), are the most salient prevention measures for COVID-19. Until a sufficient number of South Africans are vaccinated, these remain the most important measures and it’s important to increase uptake of these behaviours among the youth.
Global health discussions and responses often alienate the voices of young impoverished people, particularly young men. Research has indicated that they are also sceptical about public health information from those outside their community. Through the Zwakala campaign, the opportunity exists to elevate the voices of these young people and motivate them to become agents of change within their communities, thus inspiring others to follow suit.