Hi everyone – hoping you may have some suggestions on a COVID-19 response project Ladysmith is developing with UN Women in Colombia, to address the needs of the Venezuelan migrant population and their host communities.
We currently run a USAID-funded pilot project on the Colombian/Venezuelan border called Cosas de Mujeres (‘Women’s stuff’), that uses WhatsApp for Business to provide information to women about services that prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Over the past 2 weeks, we’ve seen a striking uptick in messages from women who are ‘sheltered-in-place’ with violent partners and most GBV-related services are closed, who have lost their source of income because they can’t leave the house, and who have COVID symptoms but are being turned away by some health centres because they are Venezuelan. We are also hearing a lot of misinformation about how to prevent getting COVID-19, what the rules are around isolation, and what services are and are not available.
We’ve been asked by UN Women to adapt and scale our pilot project to respond to these new demands in other cities, and to do so, we need to get a bit more technologically efficient. We’re currently responding to incoming messages ourselves, and this won’t work if we expand to new regions of the country. Automation isn’t an option due to the sensitive nature of SGBV; because migrants are often targeted with automated spam, and trust needs to be established with them; and because the requests we get require human-to-human problem solving (e.g. when a service provider refuses treatment on discriminatory grounds and a plan B needs to be established, or when a woman messages in who is facing multiple issues like physical abuse, loss of income, and an elder parent with COVID symptoms).
Any insights or tools you’d like to share would be welcome!