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International Partnerships

CallvsCorona: a Smart Development Fund project

Mother listening to awareness raising messages from her home © Viamo

The COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally affected day-to-day life for billions of people around the world. With physical contact and interaction severely limited, digital technologies have played an important role in connecting people to critical information

To address the spread of the pandemic in Madagascar, the European Union supported the pilot project CallvsCorona, as part of the Smart Development Fund.

Designed by GIZ in collaboration with the social enterprise Viamo, CallvsCorona leverages the power of simple mobile phones to provide free access to interactive audio content to marginalised and isolated populations, in their local languages.

Awareness-raising messages, audio learning games and behavioral change messages are available 24/7 for the general population via the 3-2-1 Service, a national information hotline operated through pre-recorded audio messages using Interactive Voice Response.

Using this system means even people without smartphones can access the content, and because they call and listen to audio messages,the content is also accessible for people that cannot read or write. As the hotline uses voice responses and not a call center, it is available day and night and can handle thousands of calls at the same time.

Another benefit is that CallvsCorona aims at reaching 40% women, and equipping women with information often has a multiplier effect with educating their families and communities.

Young women accessing path-based audio learning games
Young women accessing path-based audio learning games © Viamo

The first 10 calls are free to everyone who uses the hotline, thanks to a partnership between Viamo and a local mobile telecommunication company. As Viamo holds such partnerships in more than 20 countries, CallvsCorona is already scaling to Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and Haiti.

Since the start of CallVsCorona in October 2020, the project has achieved incredible success. About 200,000 unique callers have listened to key messages related to COVID-19 on the 3-2-1 Service in Madagascar.These messages are promoted through SMS campaigns and push calls.

Moreover, 95 radio dramas episodes have been produced, among which 60 have put emphasis on side effects of the pandemic and how to react to them. These series are broadcasted through 19 radio stations in Madagascar and connecting the content to the 3-2-1 Service.

Overall, more than 5 million people listened to content on prevention of COVID-19 infections and on sensitization of secondary effects of the pandemic across the country. Other activities are also in progress, such as Interactive Voice Response -based remote training pilot for community health workers, and an analysis via voice response surveys of the behavioral change promoted through CallvsCorona.

A second phase with an even bigger focus on upscaling to different countries will begin in October 2021.

CallVsCorona is one of the nine winning projects for Digital Entrepreneurship competition #SmartDevelopmentHack which was organised in April 2020 by the Smart Development Fund.

Man listening to 3-2-1 hotline in remote region of Madagascar
Man listening to 3-2-1 hotline in remote region of Madagascar © Viamo

Implementing organisations