Freelance investigative journalist Manasseh Azure Awuni has blamed the failure of some persons to obey precautionary measures aimed at containing the novel coronavirus on poor communication strategy on the part of the Government of Ghana(GoG), pointing out that the communication mainly targets the well-educated while the grassroots are ignored.
On his part, the non-use or limited use of Ghanaian languages to explain the nature of the virus and how to take precaution against contracting or spreading it has been a huge minus in Government’s communication on the pandemic, adding that resource-constrained agencies like the Information Services Department(ISD) and the National Commission for Civic Education ( NCCE) have failed to educate the grassroots in languages that people understand as was once the case decades ago.
“Our Communication strategy has been faulty from day one. We targeted the elite and ignored the grassroots. After this, we should revive the NCCE and the ISD and resource them.
Growing up in Kete-Krachi, my family did not have a television set. Our most prized asset, a six-battery tape, wore a headscarf most of the time and nobody touched it unless my father. The ISD and NCCE were in the markets and neighbourhoods, telling us about important national announcements. They spoke in local languages and they were very effective,” he argued on Facebook.
Mr Azure Awuni, who has consistently pointed out shortcomings in communication on the pandemic, also blamed government for choosing to communicate in soothing and euphemistic language instead of communicating bluntly so that people can appreciate the real extent of the raging nature of the pandemic, maintaining that chastisement of those who tried to be blunt has not helped in fighting the pandemic.
“The tone of our communication has also be problematic. Instead of communicating bluntly and letting people know the enormity of the Covid-19 danger, we were preoccupied with the “spread calm” campaign. Those who tried to point out lapses were lashed with tongues sharper than circumcision blades. They were asked to be positive, and not be negative,” he added.
Mr Azure Awuni is of the opinion that government calming and reassuring language on the pandemic had a counterproductive effect on people who misconstrued it to mean everything was under control.
“In crisis communication, the first question to ask is what effect you want your message to have on the people. Do you want your communication to warn people of the seriousness of the situation or you want them to know that everything is under control? What wrong would have been done if the people panicked about the seriousness of Covid-19 and stayed at home?
Do you blame people for not taking the virus seriously when your communication is targeted at making them feel everything is okay?” He wandered.
Ghana’s current case count of the pandemic stands at 566.
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