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Talking Book Included in World Bank's List of Technologies for Rural COVID-19 Response

Amplio is partnering on a COVID-19 response in the Upper West Region, Ghana

Around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the need to share and collect accurate health information in rural, remote communities. In response, the World Bank has endorsed information and communications technologies (ICTs0 that it development partners can tap for communications and monitoring to slow or prevent the spread of the virus. The Amplio Talking Book made the list.

Using Talking Books for COVID-19 response, social inclusion

This past year, the World Bank's Social Development team selected the Talking Book as a low-tech solution for social inclusion. While apps and SMS can work for people with mobile phones, there’s still a need to reach communities that lack access to mobile internet or mass media. This is the case in Ghana’s poverty-stricken Upper West Region.

In April, Amplio partnered with Ghana Health Services, Literacy Bridge Ghana, and UNICEF to launch a Talking Book COVID-19 response in eight vulnerable districts near the Burkina Faso border. Community health nurses and volunteers are using Talking Books to share accurate, local language messages to promote COVID-19 awareness and prevention. Already health workers have requested additional messages on COVID-19 social stigma, domestic violence, malaria, and more.

Here are some of the other simple technologies in use:

WHO COVID19 Alerts via WhatsApp

Launched by WHO in parnership with WhatsApp and Facebook, this easy-to-use messaging service provides news and information on coronavirus. Governments, health workers, and communities can get the latest situation reports and real-time numbers. The service is accessed through a WhatsApp link. Users type “hi” to prompt a menu of options on COVID-19.

Africa’s Voices Interactive Radio

In March, Africa’s Voices and Radio Africa Group launched a pilot that combines Public Service Announcements (PSAs), radio shows, and 1-to-1 SMS communications in order to provide immediate high-quality public health content. Weekly shows aired through Radio Jambo have reached 5 million listeners. The interactive pilot is providing access to rapid socio-epidemiological insights. Read about the pilot.  

Farm Radio International

Farm Radio International is helping to keep millions of rural Africans updated about COVID-19. Listeners can share concerns and feedback through mobile-based polls and call in to ask questions. Farm Radio has set up a WhatsApp group, a broadcaster hotline, and an emergency response fund to support broadcasters and radio stations to develop quality communication on COVID-19. Learn more

Cambodia’s 115 Hotzone

In Cambodia, the Ministry of Health has scaled up its national hotline to share information and reports on COVID-19. In recent weeks, the toll-free 115 Hotline has received up to 18,000 daily calls. The hotline system was set up in 2015 by InSTEDD iLab, an Amplio partner, to monitor disease outbreaks and get reports from rural and illiterate populations in vulnerable, hard to reach communities. Learn more.

Reaching those who are furthest behind is a core mandate of the World Bank’s Social Development Global Practice. To learn more about how simple technologies can be used to enhance social impact in hard to reach communities, see Inclusive Disruption: Harnessing the Social Power of Technology.


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