New study assesses COVID-19 communications in Cambodia

UNICEF played a key role in Cambodia’s COVID-19 response, working with the Government and partners on risk communication and community engagement. A new study assesses the effectiveness of this work.

Covid-19 Response, Billboard in Phnom Penh
UNICEF Cambodia/2020/Daravatey Seng


UNICEF was a key partner to the Royal Government of Cambodia during the country’s COVID-19 response. Within weeks of the first case, UNICEF had worked with partners to produce multiple videos, social media posts, posters, radio bulletins, and more to inform Cambodians about risk awareness and reduction. 

In April, just one month after COVID-19 risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) activities began, a study was launched into their effectiveness. The study was based on a combination of online surveys and telephone calls that reached 750 people. An important innovation was creating a dashboard to display data as soon as it came in and making this available to staff and development partners. Because of the urgency of the situation, waiting for the results to be written up into a report would mean losing valuable time which could be spent adjusting messaging or communications tactics as a result of the data. The ongoing availability of the dashboard meant there was no lag.

The survey data suggested that country-level public messages disseminated by government institutions and partner organizations played a strong role in encouraging actions reducing the spread of COVID-19. 99% of respondents reported that they received messages on COVID-19 and 80% agreed that public messaging was their main reason for practicing precautionary behaviours. There were many other findings on media habits, trust in sources and other important RCCE considerations.

“The study led us to four important conclusions,” said Juanita Vasquez Escallon, Evaluation Specialist. “The first was that messaging should emphasise how effective a behaviour was in reducing risk, while the second was that more frequent messaging can increase effectiveness. The third was very significant, that we mustn’t neglect older groups or people with low literacy, and that this will often mean using quite innovative, grassroots-driven techniques. The fourth recommendation that came out of the study was that effective RCCE communication should emphasise the feasibility and social importance of recommended behaviours.”

©UNICEF Cambodia/2020/Seng Daravatey
Juanita Vasquez Escallon and Emily Nguyen
Publication date
English, Khmer


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