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Investing in Behaviour Change to Fight COVID19

By Taniya Bajaj and Malcolm Spence  |   Posted 21st May 2020

In response to the challenges presented by the ongoing pandemic, GIF’s pipeline now reflects innovations from organizations both within our existing investment portfolio and other organizations whose evidence-backed innovations fit our investment criteria. One example of an existing partner GIF has already announced is mClinica.

Another example of a COVID19 focused intervention with an existing partner is our investment with Behavioural Insights Team or BIT.

Human behaviour is at the heart of many public policy challenges, including the fight against COVID-19. A growing body of evidence show that humans’ use cognitive biases, such as following social norms by seeing what people around them are doing, to navigate the world. Insights from studying these behaviours help us design more effective policies and interventions. Because human behaviour depends heavily on the relevant context and can often not be predicted, BIT combines these insights with rigorous impact evaluation.

BIT is working with the government in West Java, Indonesia, to help make their COVID-19 communications more evidence-based and thereby more effective. One of West Java’s main concerns during the pandemic is ensuring compliance with social distancing advice, specifically during Ramadan and in relation to people moving from the city to their home villages where they might bring the virus to poorer and more vulnerable segments of the population.

Behavioural insight can help inform the communications around COVID-19 to maximise public trust and minimise the spread of the virus by influencing citizen behaviour. GIF is helping fund BIT to work collaboratively with the West Java government to identify interventions, develop communication around those policies, and test the impact on attitudes, sentiments and stated behaviour. The Predictiv platform allows BIT to run experiments to test which approaches are most effective before they are deployed at scale.

One of GIF’s guiding principles during the pandemic response is to use our investments as rapid learning devices to provide insight and feedback to others also in this fight, which is completely aligned with our support of BIT. BIT’s interventions are built around a learning agenda and working with West Java government they will be able to quickly develop variations of government communication and then test the impact of this for understanding and compliance.