Community Rapid Assessment on COVID-19: Behavioural Findings and Insights from Round 1 in Kenya, Madagascar and South Sudan

UNICEF Evaluation Office
UNICEF Communication for Development
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
Publication Year:
January 12, 2021
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-Being

The coronavirus disease pandemic (COVID-19) has triggered an unprecedented global crisis. As of 25 November 2020, the World Health Organization reported more than 59,204,902 confirmed cases, including 1,397,139 deaths.[1] The related economic crisis is placing tremendous strain on already overburdened social and health services, and is expected to push an additional 85 to 115 million people into extreme poverty in 2020.[2] For children, the impact of the crisis will be felt across multiple dimensions of their lives for years and perhaps decades to come, exacerbating existing exclusions and inequities.

National efforts to combat the spread of the virus rely on key behaviours at the community and individual levels such as frequent handwashing, physical distancing and the use of masks, and health-seeking behaviour, among others. Risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) programmes can reinforce these behaviours, but a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach may not achieve the desired results; lessons learned from the response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014-2015 suggest that to be effective, RCCE strategies should be evidence-based, making use of robust data on the knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) of specific communities, as well as how these practices are evolving over time.[3]

The Community Rapid Assessment (CRA) was designed to strengthen this evidence base by gathering rapid time-series social and community-sourced data to examine protective practices, coping strategies and emerging needs in relation to COVID-19. 

This report provides a brief overview of the CRA as implemented in three of the eight participating country offices in Eastern and Southern Africa region (ESAR), focusing on 1) key findings and early insights from the first round of data from three selected countries (Kenya, Madagascar and South Sudan) and 2) early lessons and considerations arising from implementing this approach.

The findings provide preliminary recommendations for adjusting current RCCE strategies and interventions. They also demonstrate the value of deploying rapid analytic systems for emergencies like COVID-19 and make the case for continuing to gather data on social and behaviour change to inform decision-making and programme design over the longer term. A fuller analyses of the three countries can be found in the slide deck, which contains all the data visuals and country-level perspectives and interpretation.


[1] World Health Organization, 'WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard', WHO, Geneva,, accessed 13 October 2020.

[2] World Bank, ‘COVID-19 to Add as Many as 150 Million Extreme Poor By 2020’, press release, World Bank, New York, 7 October 2020.

[3] United Nations Children’s Fund, ‘Evaluation of UNICEF’s Response to the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa, 2014-2015’, UNICEF, New York, 2016.


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