Image: M.C. Escher Ascending and Descending (detail) Lithograph, 1960
“People just don’t believe that COVID-19 is real”
– Dr Job Mwanza, District Medical Officer and Mothers of Africa Trustee in Zambia, Feb 2021.
I am delighted to be part of a new public health communication project in rural Zambia with Mothers of Africa (CIO), following a successful emergency small grant bid to the Welsh Government’s Wales and Africa Grant Scheme. ‘COVID-19 is Real: Making Crucial Health Information Available to All‘ seeks to influence attitudes and beliefs about the virus and counter vaccine resistance.
Running between March and August, the project is led by Mothers of Africa founder Prof. Judith Hall of Cardiff University. It involves collaborating online with partners in Zambia, through Dr. Job Mwanza and others. I will be working directly with Dr. Hantao Liu, Senior Lecturer in School of Computing and Informatics at Cardiff University, to develop tailored public information campaign material via workshops in two rural community schools in Chongwe district, Shiyala and Evergreen. Visual communication will be adapted to multi-lingual contexts: Zambia has seven official languages and many Bantu and other dialects. Dr. Liu will explore perceptual impacts of different colour palettes on communication and there will be community wider sharing of the designs and illustrated conversations, with the help of community leaders.
Can illustration save lives? To help answer this I am revisiting an excellent book from an exhibition at the Wellcome Collection in 2017-18, ‘Can Graphic Design Save Your Life?‘. To start to get a visual sense of people, landscape and palette, there are some rich images here https://www.flickr.com/photos/gozambia Next stop will be researching successful COVID-19 information campaigns and conventions of visual communication in Zambia. In the course of the project I will be rethinking remoteness, both as a challenge and an asset. And learning Nyanja. ‘COVID-19 ndi yeniyeni’ – have I got that right?