Missing the mark? Rapid language assessment for the Ebola response in Goma

19 March, 2019

Dear HIFA colleagues,

I'm delighted to be able to share Translators without Borders' report on a preliminary assessment of language and communication needs for the Ebola response in Goma, DRC carried out in February.

The full report in English [https://translatorswithoutborders.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/DRC_Ebo... and French [https://translatorswithoutborders.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/DRC_Ebo... is now available on our website [https://translatorswithoutborders.org/the-democratic-republic-of-congo/]. Here is a one-page summary in English [https://translatorswithoutborders.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/DRC_Ebo... and French [https://translatorswithoutborders.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/DRC_Ebo... for readers with less time.

We found that:

- Existing Ebola risk communication materials are not fully understood, even among the relatively well educated population of Goma. We can expect lower comprehension levels in rural areas.

- Key concepts essential to prevention are not understood in French and standard Swahili, particularly among women and older people. These include 'consent', 'vaccination', 'ring vaccination', 'sperm' and 'bloody'.

- Risk communication in Goma should be in a localized form of Swahili, which takes account of the words typically used for key concepts locally and differences between male and female language use.

- Reading comprehension is poor among women and older people in particular: risk communication should prioritize audio formats.

- We cannot break the disease transmission chain unless people understand how to keep themselves and their families safe. That means communicating in the right languages and formats for the widest possible audience at each location. These findings highlight the need for better information on the comprehension levels and communication preferences of people across affected and at-risk areas. Further research can support the existing response by informing more localized communication strategies.

Any questions or comments, please let us know.

And please feel free to share further.

All the best,



Mia Marzotto

Senior Advocacy Officer



Skype: miacrocetti

WhatsApp: +39 333 743 9807

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HIFA profile: Mia Marzotto is Advocacy Officer at Translators without Borders. She is based in New York City, USA. She is a member of the HIFA working group on Multilingualism.



mia AT translatorswithoutborders.org