The Community Perception Tracker (CPT) is an approach to enable staff and partners to capture, analyse and understand the perceptions of communities during disease outbreaks. The qualitative data is analysed, correlated with epidemiological data, used to inform and adjust programming and provide an evidence base for advocacy and influencing.
The CPT is part of a Community Engagement (chapter E ) approach developed by Oxfam in 2018. It was trialled in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the Ebola outbreak. CPT enables the systematic and ongoing collection of perceptions throughout the response. Perceptions are the concerns, questions, beliefs or practices of crisis-affected communities about the disease outbreak. By listening to people’s perceptions and understanding their priorities and challenges, they can be supported to make informed choices during a disease outbreak. CPT can lead to meaningful programmatic changes that can play an important role in building trust with communities. It is not a stand-alone approach but should supplement wider WASH and other programme activities. There are six steps to complete the CPT process:
A key aspect of CPT is that the process creates space for all teams (across sectors) and partners to come together and regularly discuss real-time data and trends and make coordinated recommendations and actions.
The perceptions are collected while personnel are conducting regular participatory programme activities such as:
Data collection and analysis
Data collection can be done face to face or remotely using a phone. The data is uploaded to a server and extracted for analysis which is shared in teams/partners group discussions. The analysis is fed-back to the community T.13, using existing information channels.
The CPT can be used in all contexts and response settings. It is exclusively designed for use during disease outbreaks but may be adapted in the future to suit other types of emergency responses. Ideally, the CPT should be set up at the outset of a programme to capitalise on the ability of the process to shape and adapt activities based on the analysis of the captured data. CPT users must be engaged in the process, receive feedback about the quality of the data collected and take an active part in the decisions taken to adjust the programming or advocate for change. The data also serves as evidence to advocate P.10 on behalf of communities in coordination fora and with donors. The CPT can be implemented in stages, starting in one project or area and scaled up as needed.
CPT requires the dedicated time of a ‘focal person’ or group of people to oversee the process, lead on the analysis of the data and facilitate regular team meetings. All staff, including managers, must be trained (online or face to face) and supported, especially in the CPT’s first few weeks. CPT also needs support from monitoring and evaluation staff for data validation and extraction. Mobile phones, tablets or pads are required for data collection as well as a digital platform to send and store data (e.g. Survey CTO, Kobo).
A research project was conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Action Contre la Faim in Zimbabwe and Oxfam in Lebanon. It aimed to establish whether the CPT approach is effective at helping COVID-19 response organisations adapt their interventions so that projects are of good quality, relevant and acceptable to the communities. The findings will be available on the Oxfam and Elhra websites following publication in 2022.
Ensure that managers understand and support the approach
Train the team and partners and ensure that all CPT users are part of the CPT process not just for data collection (this has a significant impact on the quality of data collected).
Feedback the results of the data analysis to communities
Do not implement the CPT as a stand-alone project but as an integrated programme approach
Do not use the CPT to analyse information from social media platforms as the data may not enable perceptions to be disaggregated (e.g. by gender and age)
Since 2020 the CPT has been used in Oxfam’s COVID-19 responses in more than 12 countries. It has highlighted different patterns of perception on the existence and origin of the virus, preventative measures and treatment and revealed how COVID-19 affects people’s lives including their livelihoods, protection and education. It has helped to adjust programme activities and, where Oxfam and its partners were not able to respond to the concerns, led to advocacy for other organisations to respond.
In Lebanon, in early 2021, perceptions were gathered about the COVID-19 vaccines. Concerns, questions and beliefs were captured about the vaccine, its efficacy and potential side effects as well as access to the vaccine. Refugees shared their perspectives over several months helping to design a new vaccination promotion project that included transport fees to vaccination centres, support for registration on government platforms and the use of testimonies from vaccinated people.
To collect and use community perceptions during a disease outbreak
Oxfam (undated): Community Perception Tracker
Azzalini, R., Oxfam Team in Venezuela (2021): Tracking Community Perceptions in Venezuela during COVID-19, Forced Migration Review. Issue 67. Pages 23-25
ACF, Nutrition Action Zimbabwe, Africa AHEAD (2021): Tracking and Responding to Community Perceptions about the COVID-19 Pandemic in Zimbabwe, COVID-19 Hygiene Hub
ELRHA, ACF, LSHTM, Oxfam (undated): Tracking Community Perceptions: Curbing the Spread of COVID-19