Uganda registered her first case of the novel coronavirus aka “Miss Rona” (a name millenials have chosen to amuse themselves with) on the 21st of March 2020 which resulted in nationwide lockdown and curfew measures to contain the spread. However, the disease was already fast spreading within the surrounding countries of Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda, which had the DwB team make the decision to operate remotely even before the first local case was recorded.
As a team of designers always accustomed to working in different environments, the concept of working away from the office was not a foreign one. We´re always on the move, carrying out research, working on projects upcountry all while having to remotely collaborate with other teams….so….. same thing, right?……apparently not!
The distractions were countless, but work still had to be done.
Firstly, the fact that working remotely mostly meant working from home, we found ourselves caught up in having to work with playful nephews in the background, or that neighbor and his loud dogs, or that shady internet service provider….. The distractions were countless, but work still had to be done.
Slack and Zoom right away became dedicated members of our team, having anticipated the need for this earlier and had an internal office workshop to get familiar with the app….thanks Chaz!
Secondly, with the challenges that the coronavirus presented, that threatened to interfere with our way of life, opportunities were being seized at the same time. There was still, and will always be, room for constant innovation and collaboration no matter what curveball may be thrown at humans, resilience is in our DNA. So amidst the dark cloud of confusion and uncertainty that COVID-19 brought to 2020, Design Without Borders chose to be a beacon of hope by contributing towards the fight against the virus, in any capacity that we could. So we sat down…..you already know the drill….zoom meeting! And brainstormed on what possible interventions that were relevant to our local context that we could push to help the crisis.
Something that stood out from the get-go was the rumors and misconceptions surrounding Miss Rona. You heard them too; “All you need to do is eat garlic!” “Chill in the sun fam! It´ll kill the virus instantly!” “Africans are immune to the virus bro, don’t even worry about it!”
The World Health Organization and other internationally accredited health institutions were circulating information across various media platforms to guide the public worldwide, and so was the Ugandan government, but before serious action was taken on their part, we identified the information gap with the majority illiterate Ugandans that couldn’t understand the text-heavy posters, that were predominantly in English, and the kids who were hearing all sorts of rumors about the virus from various sources.
DWB decided to embark on an inclusive health awareness communication campaign that would not leave anyone behind regardless of their age, tribe, level of education, or disability. Phase One of this task was to design graphic posters that could instantly communicate the message using visual symbols, containing vital information sourced from the WHO, which were translated into 7 languages and circulated across our social media platforms.
Before we knew it, hospitals from different parts of the country were reaching out for high-resolution files to be printed, and local business owners wanted to do the same. Volunteers to collaborate on translation into more languages also came through and we were steadily gaining more traction! The DWB coronavirus awareness posters were the first step towards a more inclusive health communication strategy, in what would further lead to more interventions aimed at providing credible and translated information to every Ugandan.
Take a look at some samples of the posters that were circulated!