Working with other agencies, we put together data from many organizations to provide Uganda’s Ministry of Health with real-time information to combat misinformation that proliferated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

UN Global Pulse’s Kampala office used its radio mining tool to produce solid evidence of the scope of the problem. Automatic speech recognition technology was able to detect rumors, misinformation and questions that people discussed on local radio stations. Armed with a clearer understanding of the situation, the health ministry’s partners were able to counteract mis- or disinformation and supply accurate information.

Our impact

We helped improve public trust in the overall COVID-19 response by supplying useful information to the Ugandan Health Ministry’s risk communication committee. Increased trust meant that more Ugandans got vaccinated against COVID-19, and observed recommended containment measures, although precise measures of the impact of the data mining are not available. The radio analysis tool proved a novel and important way to understand local issues and to increase support for public health measures.

Our lessons

  • We listened when our partners told us they preferred to receive data via text reports rather than high-tech online dashboards.
  • Our work confirmed the power of radio to take the pulse of public perceptions.
  • The radio mining tool gave our partners deep insight into rumours and misinformation at the community level, and helped them target their interventions more precisely.