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Diversity Impact on Vaccine Equity in Algeria

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Minority Rights Group conducted research to monitor social media discourse around Covid-19 vaccination in Algeria, including access, confidence and uptake among the entire population, and with particular reference to the Amazigh community.

This report provides a brief analysis of the monitoring efforts from January 2021 (the beginning of the vaccine campaign in Algeria) to January 2022. The findings of this study are drawn from social media monitoring of Facebook conducted through CrowdTangle (based on tracking keyword combinations), the monitoring of the official Algerian news site, Algérie Presse Service (APS) through Brandwatch, and two Focus Group Discussions with Amazigh representatives.

The report highlights the following key findings:

  1. Information shared on vaccination is heavily controlled by the Algerian government as part of its campaign to fight the spread of fake news, but also the general crackdown on civil society’ freedom of expression. The official news agency, Algérie Presse Service (APS), remains the main source of information on vaccination and research indicated that there is widespread dissatisfaction about their publications on vaccination. Moreover, although APS is available in Arabic, French and Tamazight, information is not equally available in the three languages on their official Facebook pages (no posts at all in Tamazight about vaccination between December 2020 and December 2021).
  2. Comments in Arabic and French dominated conversations on Facebook, while only few comments could be identified in Tamazight. Levels of confidence did not vary greatly in Arabic and French; however, Arabic showed a higher level of ‘low confidence’ and French a higher level of ‘selective confidence’.
  3. The majority of comments showed no reservations in Covid-19 vaccination; however, the most common reservations found were: doubt over vaccine safety, equally expressed in Arabic and French, and conspiracy related fears, significantly more present in Arabic comments.
  4. Among identifiable comments, levels of distrust in authorities were pretty high in all languages, especially in terms of information they shared. Amazigh representatives to Focus Group Discussions reported that, although vaccines are available to all, access to information was low in general, and insufficient in Tamazight.

The research showed a main barrier in identifying Amazigh social media users with certainty, since many Amazigh use French and Arabic quite regularly, especially on social media where they also communicate with Arab Algerians, and since only a few have personal names with a clear reference to Amazigh history and culture (this is for instance more likely to be the case in the Kabyle region but not in other Tamazight-speaking areas). Therefore, we could not identify vaccine discrimination or the existence of potential trends, attitudes and rumours concerning Covid-19 vaccination that are specific to this community. However, information shared in Tamazight by official sources was very low, and communities relied on local sources, such as radio stations and local community authorities. In general, people have concerns about vaccine safety and the transparency in which information is shared.

This Bulletin was published in the context of MRG’s Diversity: Impact on Vaccine Equality (DIVE) programme (2021-2022).

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