WhatsApp to Reach and Engage RIM Communities

The availability of accurate COVID-19 information that is culturally and linguistically appropriate is essential to keeping communities safe. Likewise, it is also vital to provide information via channels that community members actively use and trust.

Reaching Communities through WhatsApp

WhatsApp is a popular social messaging tool for many communities, including refugees, immigrants, and migrants (RIM). WhatsApp provides an easy platform to communicate with others both, domestically and abroad. Many RIM community members have WhatsApp, are familiar with how it works, and prefer it for communication. Therefore, it can be an important tool in sharing informational videos and messages about COVID-19 among RIM communities, and is a promising practice for delivering essential messages to RIM communities in a timely and efficient manner.

Disseminating COVID-19 Language Accessible Videos through WhatsApp

International Rescue Committee (IRC) Boise Office partnered with local health departments and community partners to create COVID-19 language accessible videos delivered through the WhatsApp platform. These videos contained recognizable faces of community leaders that helped build trust in the messaging. Videos explained expectations surrounding contact tracing and were made in several RIM languages. IRC Boise office reported that sending out these videos about contract tracing before the initial contact tracing calls helped mediate expectations and increase the likelihood that RIM community members would pick up the call.

Utilizing WhatsApp to Reach RIM Community Members before CICT Calls

Members of the Abilene-Taylor County Public Health District reported challenges engaging with RIM community members during the initial CICT call. In order to address this challenge, health department staff utilized WhatsApp and sent texts to the RIM community member beforehand, informing them that a member of the health department would call them about CICT efforts. When RIM community members received a WhatsApp message prior to a phone call from a potentially unknown number, health department staff reported that RIM community members were more likely to pick up the CICT call.

Additional Resources 

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