CC’s new circle nudges and mural by the FNB ATM in Maun

With Covid cases on the rise in Maun and the pandemic impacting on all of us, Coaching Conservation has continued to seek ways to help protect our community and reiterate CC’s core environmental messages which resonate so strongly in the context of this virus. To this end, we recently conducted a 3-day survey in the streets of Maun, focusing on areas where people naturally seemed to gather, such as at ATM machines and at supermarkets. Sticking to a safe distance and following our own Covid-safe protocols, we questioned a random sample of the population to find out their concerns about the current pandemic, identify cultural challenges to reducing transmission, and get an idea of public understanding about the virus.

There were two main behaviours that we noticed: people not wearing masks consistently or correctly, and also not social distancing. Could these lapses be the reason new cases were increasing? There were other possible problems we identified, such as large gatherings continuing at funerals and weddings, where Covid protocols seem to be ignored. A few of our respondents also brought to our attention that there was a type of fear or discomfort that stopped people from policing each other, even if it they knew it was the right thing to do. We were told that people seem to take it personally when they’re asked to keep a social distance or wear their mask correctly and could become offended or rude in some instances.

We then decided that a good way to address some of these issues would be to deploy “nudges” in places where there are queues. With the support of Mr Markus (a former member of parliament for Ngamiland who totally understands and shares our concerns), we gained permission to use his shopping complex in Maun for our proposed nudges. Nudges are simple cues in our environment that influence us to behave in a certain way. The idea of nudges rests on the theory that behaviour is not only based on conscious thoughts and decisions, but that it can be unconsciously guided by choice architecture – the way that options are presented to people.

We called upon our local artists once again to help us turn our nudges into aesthetically pleasing and educational messages. After some discussion, we settled on messages that covered the key areas of concern and which linked clearly to CC’s mantra: Respect Yourself, Respect Each Other, Respect Your Environment. The artists then incorporated these messages into a mural highlighting some common mistakes our survey suggested people were making while they also came up with a circular design with footprints in the centre and one message per circle, with each circle drawn onto the pavement 2 metres apart from its neighbour to encourage people to maintain social distancing in queues. Our messages were:

  1. WASH YOUR HANDS – COVID LOVES DIRTY SURFACES!

  2. BE SMART – STAY 2M APART

  3. MY MASK PROTECTS YOU – YOUR MASK PROTECTS ME

  4. KEEP SAFE – KEEP YOUR DISTANCE

  5. IT’S OK TO SAY  “A RE KATOGANE”

Now we will monitor behaviour and see if our nudges have made a difference!

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