Global Call | RCCE Collective Service Update: Focus on cholera outbreak and RCCE support

Global Call | RCCE Collective Service Update: Focus on cholera outbreak and RCCE support

GOARN hosted The Collective Service Monthly Global Call on Tuesday, January 30, gathering approximately 40 RCCE partners from diverse agencies.

The session was dedicated to addressing the prevailing global cholera outbreak and the ongoing RCCE support initiatives, with a particular emphasis on countries within the Eastern and Southern Africa region.

In case you missed the call and wish to review the agenda or catch up on the presentations that were discussed, we have made the presentation deck available.

If you would like to share operational support updates and participate in collaborative discussions on RCCE issues during our next Global Call, please contact Diane Le Corvec –

Zimbabwe: CHOLERA Situation Overview and Collective Service Operations Brief

Zimbabwe: CHOLERA Situation Overview and Collective Service Operations Brief

An alarming upsurge in the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe occurred over the festive season with transmissions continuing to climb due to the annual rainy season. In total, 19,915 and 370 suspected deaths (CFR: 1.86%) have been reported from 60 districts, in all 10 provinces from February 2023 to 22 January (13,230 cases from Nov 2023). WHO and UNICEF project an estimated 38,763 cases by February 2024 (20,000 more cases within one month). The provinces with the highest number of new cases are Harare, Manicaland, and Masvingo. In total, 2.7 million people are at risk of contracting cholera in Zimbabwe.1 

An immunisation campaign will be led by the Government with support from UNICEF/WHO. The OCV campaign targets 2.2 million. According to UNICEF, “factors driving cholera transmission include low access to safe water, inappropriate sanitation and IPC, health system challenges (staff attrition, capacity, access, and quality issues), unsafe burial practices, waning immunity from the 2019 OCV campaign, and multiple disease outbreaks (polio, measles)2.” Cross-border population movements with neighbouring countries, including Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique, present continued risks for increased transmissions.  

Per the request of the Ministry of Health (MoH), Collective Service (CS) partners conducted focus group discussions in communities and rapid qualitative assessments (RQAs) to gather and share insights from Kuwadzana, Glenview, Mutare Rural, and Gutu districts. The UK Public Health Rapid Support Team (UK-PHRST), an innovative partnership between the UK Health Security Agency and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, provided critical staff support in RCCE coordination with an RCCE Specialist seconded to UNICEF, to undertake this work. This was followed by the CS Surge Coordinator, from the IFRC, who developed a national community feedback mechanism in coordination with MoH and partners. Based on the qualitative data gathered by UNICEF, actionable recommendations across response pillars on challenges communities are having regarding access to clean drinking water, poor health-seeking behaviours, and poor sanitation facilities, for example. Partners continue to use this data to inform their response.

1. Strengthening the activation and implementation of a national and sub-national RCCE coordination mechanism for the cholera outbreak

  • The partners, supported by the RCCE CS Information Management Specialist, developed a 4Ws dashboard for the RCCE pillar to outline the locations where existing partners were working and the activities they were implementing.
  • The team also crafted an RCCE strategy for UNICEF’s cholera response plan, which is currently under review by the Ministry of Health (MoH).
  • The partners proposed a new agenda for pillar meetings, and it was accepted by the MoH to promote a more dynamic approach to coordination with partners, ensuring that community feedback and social analytics drive priorities and key actions.
  • The team created a set of rapid qualitative Focus Group Discussion (FGD) and Key Informant Interview (KII) topic guides, adapted from guides used by the RCCE CS during the cholera outbreak in Malawi and refined by the UK-PHRST’s Social Science lead. These guides were shared and utilised by RCCE pillar partners to encourage the standardisation of data collection tools, facilitating data sharing and use among different agencies.

2. Building national and sub-national RCCE capacity to deliver high quality activities

  • The partners focused on providing capacity strengthening support to RCCE and WASH partners in collecting, analysing, and acting on qualitative community feedback data, particularly in coding data.
  • With the support of the RCCE CS IM and Surge Support Coordinator, several training sessions were conducted on feedback mechanism setup/management and qualitative feedback data coding. A national-level data coding framework was developed, covering COVID-19, cholera, measles, and polio, allowing for the analysis of data across different outbreak responses.
  • Additionally, an inter-agency community feedback dashboard has been established, and three partners are currently collecting, coding, and sharing their data for discussions and actions in the next steps. 
  • A joint workshop with WHO for multi-faith leaders through the Zimbabwe Council of Churches focused on cholera prevention and control. This included a participatory action planning session where leaders were asked to identify key transmission risks in their communities and propose ideas on how they could support their communities in mitigating these risks.
  • A co-facilitated 5-day Infodemic Management/Community Feedback training, in collaboration with provincial MoH leads for all 10 of Zimbabwe’s provinces alongside WHO and the CS, was successfully conducted. The outcome of the session was the development of clear Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and agreements on roles and responsibilities for operationalizing a government-led community feedback mechanism for outbreaks in Zimbabwe. 

3. Generating evidence and insights into community perspectives on transmission dynamics to inform adaptive decision-making within the response

Over the last few months, this joint effort and partners collaboration have strengthened the integration of community insights into the response by improving the quality and standardisation of data collection tools, enhancing the capacity of implementing partners, and refining the strategic focus of the RCCE pillar’s workplan.

The MoH has requested that the CS Surge Coordinator return to Zimbabwe to coordinate the sub-national activation and rollout of the CFM, including data coding training, and onboarding of partners, which will be prioritised over the next 3 months to ensure the systematic collection of community feedback. The community feedback dashboard is now live and data is being uploaded. A rapid qualitative assessment is being planned to gather in-depth insights on attitudes and perceptions towards OCV ahead of the vaccination campaign. 

Here are a few pictures from the Social Sciences activities conducted in Manicaland Province – ©Sophie Everest

The Unicef and Zimbabwe Red Cross Society partners, and a CTC nurse presenting cholera hotspot map

(Left) A community FDG in Mutare Rural, and (right) a Leaders and VHWs group discussion in Buhare, Manicaland Province

The UK-Public Health Rapid Support Team is a key international partner in epidemic disease response. We partner with low- and-middle income countries to respond to infectious disease outbreaks before they develop into global health emergencies. We work closely with international organisations, partner country governments and non-governmental organisations to:

  • Rapidly investigate and respond to disease outbreaks at their source in LMICs eligible for UK Official Development Assistance, with the aim of stopping a public health threat from becoming a broader health emergency.
  • Conduct research to generate an evidence base for best practice in epidemic preparedness and response.
  • Strengthen capacity for improved national response to disease outbreaks in LMICs.

The views expressed in this publication are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Department of Health and Social Care.

  1. Ministry of Health and Child Care Zimbabwe, Cholera Situation Report, 22 January 2024 ↩︎
  2. UNICEF Situation Report, 05 January 2024 ↩︎
Joint Evaluation of the RCCE Collective Service

Joint Evaluation of the RCCE Collective Service

An independent evaluation of the Collective Service was carried out between January and November 2023 and was jointly managed by the evaluation offices of IFRC, UNICEF and WHO. The purpose of the evaluation was to assess the Collective Service’s contribution to strengthening RCCE systems in the public health and humanitarian response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to make suggestions and recommendations to the Service partners’ decision-makers on the future strategy, vision and coordination model.

The evaluation shed light on the role of risk communication and community engagement in public health emergencies, why it is important for organizations to work together in this area, and how this can best be achieved with regard to the Collective Service.

Access the evaluation brief, which highlights the methodology used to conduct the evaluation, introduces key findings and recommendations, and exposes the strategic options to determine the future level of ambition for the Collective Service.

A dedicated information session on the external evaluation outcomes is scheduled for Tuesday 27 February. Join us for a webinar packed with insights and discussion on how this collaboration has impacted public health coordination, its challenges and achievements, and strategic recommendations for the future.

See time options and register: Webinar on Collective Service Evaluation

Call for applications for the first Arabic SSHAP Fellowship

Call for applications for the first Arabic SSHAP Fellowship

The Social Science in Humanitarian Action Platform (SSHAP) is launching the next phase of its Fellowship Programme to begin in February 2024. Funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Wellcome Trust, SSHAP is looking for future leaders in social science to be able apply their knowledge to humanitarian emergencies in a locally relevant way.

At its core, SSHAP’s vision is to encourage emergency responses which are effective, adaptive, contextually informed and based on social and interdisciplinary science and evidence. The Fellows play a vital role in realising SSHAP’s vision. Throughout the duration of the Fellowship, the programme will pair social scientists with practitioners in the same region to facilitate and encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and knowledge exchange.

The Fellows will also have the benefit of working closely with leading thinkers and practitioners from within the SSHAP partnership between the Institute of Development StudiesAnthrologicaGulu UniversityLe Groupe D’etudes Sur Les Conflits Et La Sécurité Humaine (GEC-SH)London School of Hygiene and Tropical MedicineUniversity of JubaCRCF SenegalUniversity of Ibadan and the Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre.

The Fellowship will include:

  • Weekly mentoring with a SSHAP expert
  • Tailored professional training programme (including network mapping and communications skills)
  • Opportunities to learn from peers and share experiences
  • Forums to shape discourse and dialogue
  • Support in developing an operational briefing to be published and promoted via SSHAP channels.

Each social scientist will be paired with a relevant practitioner to undertake the Fellowship together. Please note that all stages of this Fellowship – including the final workshop – will be held online in Arabic.


We welcome submissions from skilled and committed social scientists and practitioners in the field to take up this opportunity and contribute to the growing network.

To be eligible for the Fellowship you must:

  • Be fluent in speaking, reading and writing Arabic.
  • Be a national of and currently living in a lower- or middle-income country.
  • Be either 1) a social scientist with research experience or 2) a public health or humanitarian response practitioner in a position to influence design and/or rollout of humanitarian activities.

What do we mean by a social scientist and practitioner?

  • Social scientist: you are a social scientist with a deep understanding of your countries’ social and political context. You are well networked; you are in touch and have collaborated with other social scientists in your geographical region. You have the capacity to map the social science capacity of your region, as you know who the key players are. With the skills developed in this Fellowship you will be able to make your social science research useful for humanitarian action.
  • Humanitarian practitioner: you are an experienced humanitarian practitioner (working for a local or international NGO, UN Agency, or other humanitarian agency) and you are responsible in planning humanitarian activities or carrying out surveys and other forms of research to influence activities. You are well networked: you are part of regional humanitarian networks, and you know who the key players in your geographical region are. With the skills developed in this Fellowship you will learn how to best use social science to redesign activities and research.

We will also ask all applicants to provide one referee.

Dates and duration

19th February – 29th April 2024 (approximately one day per week over 10 weeks)

We welcome submissions from skilled and committed social scientists and practitioners in the field to take up this opportunity and contribute to the growing network.


Each Fellow will receive an honorarium of £1,000.

To apply

Complete the online application form:

Closing date: 7th January 2024 17:00 UTC

Applicants will be informed of the result of their applications by email by the end of January.SSHAP is committed to embedding and supporting equality, diversity, and inclusion in our work and in all our activities. We welcome applications from people of all backgrounds, beliefs, identities, orientations, and abilities.