COVID-19 and Migration, a Whatsapp business line
Peru is one of the most affected countries by coronavirus in South America. Even though the state of emergency was declared on 16 March 2020, Peru has not been able to reduce its infection and mortality rates. As of the end of July, there were more than 414,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Due to the emergency, borders were closed, heath care was suspended in primary heath care centres and people were unable to move freely. These, among other measures, worsened the already poor living conditions of migrant population causing the loss of their sources of income3 and the lack of support networks.
The activities that had been planned by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Andean Cluster in Peru were also affected5 Within this context, and given the loss of contact with the migrant population caused by the suspension of activities and the need of a new effective feedback tool during the pandemic, the IFRC —through the Americas Region Population Movement implemented a WhatsApp line that provides remote assistance to migrants affected by the COVID-19 crisis. However, in response to the fast and high demand by the Peruvian population, the line started to provide services to a larger population group.
After four months of its implementation, the WhatsApp line has proven to be a great tool to provide key information, creating a reliable two-way communication channel that is easily adaptable (integrating new information needs). The tool has become an effective channel that evolves on the basis of the feedback provided by the target audience.
The guía de implementación de la línea de información y el kit de recursos COVID-19/MIGRACIÓN (Implementation guide and toolkit for the information line COVID-19/MIGRATION) prepared by the IFRC’s Americas Regional Office at the onset of the pandemic6 were decisive resources to organize the WhatsApp line service operation. Additionally, and within the same implementation process, several documents and communication resources were created ad-hoc.
Available in English and Spanish on the Community Engagement Hub