The ClemenGold Foundation has initiated a campaign combatting vaccine hesitancy in rural farming communities of South Africa. The Foundation was established by the ANB Group, a diversified and vertically integrated agricultural enterprise that employs more than 4,700 people. The ANB Group is one of the leading suppliers of soft citrus and sub-tropical plants in South Africa. Supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), this campaign will address vaccine hesitancy and the spread of misinformation using unique and specially developed industry relevant educational comics and training materials. As a federally owned enterprise, GIZ supports the German Government in achieving its objectives in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development.

Says Joreth Duvenhage, executive director of the Foundation, “Our pilot project is currently being implemented within the ANB Group on its 50 farms and five packhouses. The aim is to reach out to the surrounding farming communities, training trainers among the workers of citrus growers (even those who have been vaccinated) to become vaccine ambassadors. These empowered workers will then be able share the information with the rest of the workforce, rendering their communities and workplaces safer for all.”

According to Daniela Rudner, Senior Technical Advisor of the GIZ Employment and Skills for Development in Africa (E4D) Programme, funds were made available by the BMZ to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. “For us, the impact of the pandemic on rural communities including the agricultural sector, stood out. Having worked on empowering farm workers with understandable comic-style employment contracts before, the idea to use the same communication style for a vaccine hesitancy campaign for farmworkers and surrounding communities emerged. The rural poor often don’t have access to understandable COVID-related information. This project aims to empower these communities to get easy to understand information in their local language.” 

The narrative aims to dispel myths and misinformation around the COVID-19 vaccination, such as doubts about the risk of COVID-19 disease or about the vaccination’s efficacy, fears of medical procedures or of the vaccination’s side effects, and traditional belief considerations.  Extensive research was conducted to ensure the content is based on facts backed by credible science-based sources that are in line with the communication distributed by the South African Government. A range of storytelling methods have been used to ensure the infor­mation is culturally appropriate and engaging for the target audience.

The project’s content creation partner, Creative Contracts, developed the world’s first legally binding comic contract for the ANB Group’s fruit pickers in 2016. This unique contract obtained the much-coveted Better Contract Design Mark from the World Commerce and Contracting Association. Comics generally are made up of a combination of pictures and stories. Robert de Rooy of Creative Contracts explains the benefits of communicating difficult concepts through specially developed comics: “Pictures are a universal language, a way of creating understanding which limits the risks of translations into language or between languages. Complex ideas can be conveyed with just a single still image making it possible to absorb large amounts of data quickly. Stories also create connections between people and ideas, illustrate relationships better than factual statements and are much easier to remember,” he says. “The human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text and we follow directions with illustrations 300% better than in text.”

All farms are invited to participate in the programme at no direct cost to their businesses. Contact Joreth Duvenhage at