Guidance note: Risk communication and community engagement

Guidance note: Risk communication and community engagement
Aug 2020

Information is a form of assistance in itself. Access to accurate information can allow people to make informed decisions to protect themselves. Moreover, understanding drivers of behaviour and integrating that understanding into communication approaches can make information more likely to result in desired action. Preparedness and response activities should be based on protection and related “do no harm” principles and conducted in a participatory manner that is informed by community feedback. Communication efforts must respond to stakeholder concerns, mis/disinformation and behavioral factors. Transparent and consistent messaging in local languages through trusted channels can help address barriers to change. Furthermore, by using community-based networks, engaging key influencers and building local capacities, communication can more effectively mitigate risks to more efficiently establish the authority and trust required to rapidly mount responses. Hence, Risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) refers to the processes and approaches to systematically consult, engage and communicate with communities who are at risk, or whose practices affect risk. The aim is to encourage, enable and include stakeholders in the prevention of and response to risks by adapting communication to local realities. In the case of COVID-19, RCCE enables authorities and communities to work together to promote healthy behaviour and reduce the risk of spreading infectious diseases.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) developed this guidance note to support Pillar IV of the country-level activities under the framework of FAO’s component of the Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19: “Ensuring food supply chain actors are not at risk of COVID 19 transmission” through risk communication and community engagement (RCCE), together with the World Health Organization (WHO) and national authorities. In alignment with the Organization’s commitments on Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP), this guidance note aims to support country offices in designing and implementing inclusive RCCE initiatives.