Using humour to cope with social anxiety

A team of comedians unite to spread awareness on coronavirus in Niger

By Lalaina Fatratra Andriamasinoro
 Using humour to cope with social anxiety
08 April 2020

NIAMEY (Niger), 9 April 2020 - Amidst the ongoing concerns related to coronavirus, a team of comedians spread awareness about the COVID-19 in Niger. In a series of video posted on social media, they are seen talking about the measures that should be taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

One of top national comedy influencers Wanousky Montana produces a series of comedy short movies to sensitize in a fun and creative way the population on the preventive measures against the virus.

"As influencers, we have a social obligation to show support to people who are suffering from this crisis, we want to deliver hopeful messages” he says.

“Comedy plays an important societal role when we are working through dire, complex social problems. For many people, the uncertainty surrounding coronavirus is the hardest thing to handle. We don’t know how exactly we’ll be impacted or how bad things might get.”

“When anxiety rises because we’re facing a distressing threat like the new coronavirus, we need to focus on what tends to work for us to ease anxiety, and humour can help. Laughter is a symbol of hope” he says.

In a low-internet penetration country like Niger, his videos have reached almost 100,000 views within a few days. With UNICEF support, a new series were aired on social media not only to help the population cope with social anxiety but also to encourage them to adopt the preventive measures.  Much of this “coronavirus comedy” is functionally reminding us what to do – wash our hands, stay home, and practice social distancing.  

"Comedy serves crucial cultural functions as we deal with tough challenges: sharing and amplifying messages, addressing difficult topics in accessible ways, and inspiring us to feel emotions of hope and optimism, which motivate us to engage in social problems. And, not least, comedy helps us to bolster individual and collective resilience we need to face the pandemic” explains Dr. Felicite Tchibindat, UNICEF Representative in Niger.

The Covid-19, caused by novel coronavirus, has so far claimed over 80,000 lives worldwide. In Niger, eleven people died of the disease and 278 people have been tested positive as of April 8.

UNICEF is actively taking steps to provide accurate information about the virus and working with our partners to address the spread of the virus. UNICEF is leading on preventative actions in communities across the country with risk communication and community engagement, providing handwashing supplies, hygiene and medical kits, strengthening health system capacities and monitoring the impact of the outbreak to support continuity of care, education and social services. UNICEF is also working to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on protection for children and women.