Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Two ebola info sites - almost no African language content

Several recent posts on this blog have highlighted various efforts to provide information about ebola in diverse African languages. Here I'd like to mention two important efforts to share material for communication on ebola, which include almost no information (yet) in African languages: the Ebola Communication Network (ECN), funded by USAID and run by the Center for Communications Programs at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and "Ebola and C4D," a page on UNICEF's Communication for Development (C4D) website.

The purpose here is not to criticize but to help show the current language gap in messaging.

The ECN site has, according to the dropdown for "languages" on the search page, materials in the following languages (with number of items): English (133); French (17); Portuguese (2); Spanish (2); Krio (1); Pidgin (1); and Symbolic (1). Not counted in the total are the CDC's radio spots 11 African languages accessible via a link. To be fair, the ECN was only launched last week, and this is a significant collection as far as it goes.

The ECN site allows subscribed users to upload material, which would allow materials in more languages to be made available. Two questions for ECN are:
  1. How will review be handled for a wider range of languages?
  2. Will there be any proactive effort to develop the collection of materials in African languages in affected areas that might otherwise be overlooked?
The "Ebola and C4D" page, apparently launched in August, also has a significant collection. From perusal of the lists (organized under tabs for Fact Sheets, Social Mobilization, Planning Documents, and Other Tools & Resources), it appears that all linked materials are in English, French, or Portuguese, with one item in Khmer and one poster from Uganda in "Bantu" (which is a language family - may be Runyoro or Luganda - seeking to identify).

Here too, a means to submit materials is provided, so the above 2 questions may also be asked of UNICEF.

An effort should be made to upload existing material in African languages (with correct identification), as a necessary first step in helping to expand these collections.

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