Effective communication with local communities is a critical factor in containing an outbreak. However, simply broadcasting “expert” knowledge carries a risk of being rejected, particularly in indigenous communities that traditionally rely on ancestral knowledge. This paper presents an investigation into developing a shared understanding of COVID-19 in indigenous communities of Choco, Colombia, that could help them develop effective mitigating practices, while being respectful of their believes. Unstructured interviews and observations were used to explore how indigenous communities perceive and respond to COVID-19. Based on these, a communicative strategy was developed using participatory design and gamification approach, that aimed at bridging their beliefs and traditional ancestral medicine with the official medical recommendations for prevention of the virus transmission.

The findings revealed that the intervention became a trigger for mindful discussion within indigenous communities about the preventive measures from the virus, while gamification elements acted as an enabler of such discussion and created more trusting attitude towards the recommendations. Based on the initial findings, we discuss challenges of conducting indigenous research, including the role of trust between researchers and the communities, gamification as an enabler of shared knowing of a problem matter, and the importance of flexible participatory research methods whereby indigenous people are treated not as mere researched, but as full participants of the study.

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Spanellis, A., Zapata-Ramírez, P., Golovátina-Mora, P., Borzenkova, A. & Hernández-Sarmiento, J. 2021, 'Using gamification to develop shared understanding of the pandemic: COVID-19 in indigenous communities of Choco, Colombia', CEUR Workshop Proceedings, 2883, pp. 50-59. https://researchportal.hw.ac.uk/en/publications/b9887efa-1afc-433f-bffa-070a71e7b11d

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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