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Protecting agricultural workers through remote COVID-19 awareness campaigns in Pakistan

Using digital media and distanced messaging to promote virus mitigation and combat misinformation

The continuing COVID-19 pandemic—and related lockdowns—triggered a massive cash crisis around the world for families who depend on informal earnings, including daily wage workers. In Pakistan, a nationwide lockdown was imposed on 21 March 2020. This had major reverberations on the food supply chain and agriculture sector, where restrictive measures threatened the livelihoods of workers and smallholder farmers. In total, as of 12 July 2020, there were 248 872 confirmed cases throughout Pakistan.

Lockdown-related challenges have created new threats to public health, with communities struggling to adhere to restrictions while still securing food for their families. Overall, society’s most vulnerable and food insecure segments have been disproportionately affected by the immediate impacts of lockdown measures, which include sudden unemployment, food price shocks, disruptions in marketing and food trade, logistics and production, and upended labor migration patterns.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Pakistan, together with partners, delivered both physical and remote sensitization messages: field-based resources—including close to 80 000 materials printed and distributed by over 300 000 frontline workers—were complemented with remote communication technologies, ranging from social media posts, local radio broadcasts, and newly modified online components to the Farmer Field School (FFS) platform.


Key learning

Since the beginning of the campaign, extensive research within communities has been conducted regularly to ensure that the interventions being carried out are in line with evolving issues and that the messaging has been tailored to be effective in curbing the spread of the virus.

With this in mind, and since the priority issues that have been identified in both rural areas are constantly in flux, it is recommended to closely monitor changing needs and behaviors within each province and to adapt each message accordingly for maximum effectiveness.

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