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Burundian Community Organizer Uses US Nonprofit’s Drama as a New Tool

October 21st, 2014

MUREMERA, BURUNDI–Jeanne d’Arc Butoyi’s phone rang on June 24, 2014. When she answered, she didn’t know she’d be talking about something that had so profoundly helped her in her life. That was the first time she talked with someone from Population Media Center.

Jean Sacha Barikumutima, who works on promotions in Population Media Center’s Burundi office, dialed her number that day as part of a random sample telephone survey he conducts each month to assess listenership and reaction to a radio drama produced by Population Media Center (PMC), a US nonprofit dedicated to improving the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education.

“When I heard her story,” says Jean Sacha,” I was so moved. Here was a woman trying to bring information and change to her community, working so hard, and our drama was helping her to make progress.”

Just a short time later, on August 28, 2014, members of the PMC-Burundi team traveled to Jeanne’s village to hear more of her story and how the PMC drama, Agashi (“Hey! Look Again!”), was impacting her.

Jeanne is Burundian and, yes, her name translates to Joan of Arc. She lives in Muremera, in the Ndava region of Cibitoke Province. She’s in her mid-30s and works as a community organizer addressing many sexual and reproductive health issues, including condom usage, family planning, and visiting health clinics.

During the interview, Jeanne described how one character in the drama, Muhorakeye, has taught men and women to go to a clinic for prenatal care instead of relying on folklore or witchcraft and how this same character’s adamant attitude that pregnant women in Burundi should eat liver, because it’s a food that’s available and packed with nutrients, has many women rethinking their refusal to eat it.

“I invite women to listen to Agashi with me, and we all listen to the show very closely. I have seven children. I invite women who don’t yet have seven children and tell them, ‘Come, listen to these messages on Agashi. Listen to the misfortune Tengenge has to go through – giving birth to so many children and not being able to feed them.’ When I used her case as an example, people really began to understand the problem.”

But it’s not just women that Jeanne finds have been impacted by the drama. She’s also using the drama to reach out to adolescents, explaining the importance of condoms, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, and the risks of teenage pregnancy.

“What I like about the series is that Agashi has plenty of advice. There are plenty of lessons. There’s a community organizer on Agashi, and she teaches us a lot. She helps us with our community education and advocacy work. She teaches people even more about what I already teach, and people that didn’t used to listen to me are now convinced that they should.”

“I am one of those girls that had their first pregnancy too young,” says Jeanne. “I had her at 16 or probably younger. I was still living at my parents’ house.” Jeanne explains that she was lucky, the father stayed and helped her raise their daughter and they’re now married. But Jeanne works hard to help other girls stay in school and avoid pregnancy or disease.

Jeanne held discussion groups about Agashi with youth, and things weren’t easy or smooth. She explains that the youth began with comments like “You mothers and your questions mess with us! Things are different now than they were when you grew up!” But this didn’t dissuade Jeanne from using Agashi characters and actions to open up conversations about sex and condoms. Little by little, she says, some of them opened up.

“Later on, some of them came by to ask me for condoms because I have them. And some of them even told me what they did. Most of them have become friends of mine, and I give them advice.”

Jeanne explains that many youth now come to these discussion groups to share, one of whom is an orphan from Kayanza who lives with a foster mother in the village. When she arrived, many people talked about her, saying that “she had been with lots of boys.” Jeanne went to see her, and although the relationship began one-sided, Jeanne continued to visit her and Jeanne says that she realized she was a friend.

“She’s open to me now. I advised her to go get tested. She went to do it and, thank God, she is HIV negative. She came back to tell me that ‘It’s hard to abstain.’ I then advised her to use a condom. Today, she sensitizes the other girls, who still make fun of her condom use. I don’t understand anyone who doesn’t realize the importance of condoms. More and more girls, age 14 and older, are following my advice. And often they come back to tell me thank you.”

This cascading system of information, where more and more people are informed and educated about health issues is exactly PMC’s hope. The dramas are designed to model behavior, not tell people what to do, so that the audience can discuss the different characters and actions and make decisions that are right for them.

“Jeanne’s story was so powerful,” says Jean Sacha. “She was already doing incredible work, and it’s wonderful to hear that Agashi has given her another tool to be even more effective. We need people in the communities to carry these messages if we’re going to see real change.”

“What’s at stake in the series reflects the reality of the country. It really exists,” says Jeanne. “There’s a community organizer on Agashi, and she teaches us a lot. She helps us with our community education and advocacy work. She teaches people even more about what I already teach, and people that didn’t used to listen to me are now convinced that they should.”

 

ABOUT POPULATION MEDIA CENTER (PMC):

Population Media Center is a nonprofit, international nongovernmental organization, which strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change. Founded in 1998, PMC has over 15 years of field experience using the Sabido methodology of behavior change communications, impacting more than 50 countries around the world. www.populationmedia.org

Furthering the Field: PMC Shares New Knowledge About How Gender Norms Interact with Mass Media Programs to Influence Reproductive Health and Family Planning Behavior Change

October 1st, 2014

SOUTH BURLINGTON, VERMONT– This September, the International Journal of Population Research  published an article looking at a unique aspect of behavior change relating to family planning and reproductive health: how much did those changes rely on perception of gender norms?

“Gender and Reproductive Outcomes: The Effects of a Radio Serial Drama in Northern Nigeria” was written and researched by staff at Population Media Center (PMC), an international, nonprofit organization that strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education.

“PMC uses serial dramas, often known as soap operas, to address health and social issues within a community,” explains Fatou Jah, PMC’s Research Associate and lead author on the article.

Jah and her colleagues set about researching the impact of a particular PMC drama that aired in four states in northern Nigeria. Ruwan Dare (“Midnight Rain”) was 208 episodes long and aired for two years, July 2007-2009, in Hausa, the most widely spoken language in that area.

“The most illuminating finding,” says Jah of the study, “was that all 12 reproductive health outcomes were positively impacted by many of the gender predictors. This can help other development professionals and other researchers because it reiterates the connection between perceived gender roles and the impact of those norms on uptake of behaviors important for reproductive health and family planning.”

In the process of analyzing this connection, the article articulates the impacts of Ruwan Dare on reproductive health and family planning behaviors, looking across a number of measures, as well as Ruwan Dare’s impact on gender norms.

“This is an important understanding for everyone working on these issues,” says Missie Thurston, PMC’s Director of Marketing and Communications. “We hope that this helps other behavior change communications organizations  that use mass media understand previous results through this new lens, and we certainly hope that this information helps us and others maximize impact and resources in the future.”

The International Journal of Population Research is a peer-reviewed, open access journal that accepts approximately one quarter of submissions. The article authors also included Scott Connolly, PMC’s Director of Research, Kriss Barker, PMC’s Vice President of International Programs, and William Ryerson, PMC’s President.

 

ABOUT POPULATION MEDIA CENTER (PMC):

Population Media Center is a nonprofit, international nongovernmental organization, which strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change. Founded in 1998, PMC has over 15 years of field experience using the Sabido methodology of behavior change communications, impacting more than 50 countries around the world. www.populationmedia.org

Jean Bosco Ndayishimiye: A Burundian Dedicated to Teamwork and Serving the Poor

September 29th, 2014

BUJUMBURA, BURUNDI– Jean Bosco Ndayishimiye, a Burundian who lives in the capital city of Bujumbura, found himself needing to consult his trusted advisor about what job he should apply for next in his career dedicated to improving the lives of others. With the help of his advisor Rose, who also happens to be his wife, Jean Bosco decided to apply for a job with an international nonprofit looking to build a Burundian team for an entertainment-education project. The nonprofit was Population Media Center  (PMC) and the task ahead was significant.

“There were many offers with tempting salaries, but I consulted my dear wife and advisor before making my final decision,” says Jean Bosco. “I wanted to lead a team using the values I had obtained through my various experiences. I wanted to pass those values to others, working together in productive, collaborative work.”

Jean Bosco accepted the job of Country Representative for PMC’s Burundi office, and he’s been building and leading a powerful team for behavior change ever since. PMC hires all local staffs to create long-running serial dramas for TV or radio that address social and health issues through entertainment. In Burundi, PMC began broadcasting Agashi (“Hey! Look Again!”) in January 2014. The drama, which addresses issues such as family planning, HIV/AIDS, girls’ education, and gender equity, was recently independently evaluated by UNICEF and found to have an astounding national listenership of 76 percent.

“At this stage, PMC-Burundi is well known in every corner of the country through Agashi,” says Jean Bosco. “Agashi, according to listeners, is one of the two most popular dramas on Burundian airwaves. The messages we’ve received say that people not only love the themes being broadcast through Agashi, but that they are used as true teaching tools to help peer educators persuade and engage their fellow citizens. We are on a roll.”

PMC couldn’t agree more. The work and the impact stemming from the PMC-Burundi team has been growing, continually indicating successful progress in program popularity and impact.

“Getting people to take ownership of transformational messages through entertainment-education and empowerment is effective,” says Jean Bosco. “The approach works because audiences listen to stories that are connected to their everyday lives. Gradually, as people listen, they themselves become agents of change for those around them.”

The same could be said for Jean Bosco himself, whose leadership and personality directly impact the PMC-Burundi staff.

“Jean Bosco continues to use his multitude of skills to enhance and strengthen his team, the drama, and PMC’s process,” says Kriss Barker, PMC’s Vice President of International Programs. “His comprehensive knowledge of his team and the process, plus his unwavering dedication, propel the PMC-Burundi team and project forward.”

The PMC-Burundi staff underwent PMC’s in-country training and have followed the processes in place meticulously and understood PMC’s emphasis on innovation and empowerment at the local level. His leadership has allowed a number of useful additions to PMC’s process through the continued innovations of the staff, such as conducting monthly randomized phone calls to get timely and specific feedback to the writers to influence future scripts for Agashi.

“I love the sense of complementarity and togetherness that permeates the PMC staff. In our small team in Burundi – I call them the ‘Musketeers’,” says Jean Bosco, “everyone is ready to give one another support anytime there is need for it. I think the PMC model is to globally share the coaching and technical expertise of PMC headquarters—supervisory staff who are always predisposed to support the PMC national teams that are in the field worldwide. Personally, I really appreciate the confidence that PMC headquarters places in the staff of its country offices.”

Jean Bosco, who intended to study law, got his undergraduate degree in clinical and social psychology and then got his masters in development. His dedication to helping people, particularly the rural poor in Burundi, exacts a demanding schedule. Jean Bosco explains that his workdays are 12 or more hours long, which he says stems from his education, upbringing, and love of the work.

“All of the positions I have had allowed me to improve the lives of people by helping them to change their behavior,” he says. “From an early age, my education prepared me for loving work and being respectful to people. Some may find those responsibilities too heavy or difficult to carry when simply making a living, but I am determined to help young people develop altruistic values, proactivity, endurance, honesty and integrity because those principles are very difficult to teach to adults.”

Jean Bosco decided to apply for the job at PMC because of the opportunity to lead a team dedicated to improving the lives of his fellow Burundians and his dedication and excitement about that team and the team’s mission comes through every element of his work.

“In short, I am and have always been focused on the development concerns of the poor –in Burundi, especially the rural poor,” says Jean Bosco. “I hope with all my heart that, after three years, the project will have initiated a considerable amount of behavior change in the Burundian population, starting with the staff of PMC-Burundi itself.”

 

ABOUT POPULATION MEDIA CENTER (PMC):

Population Media Center is a nonprofit, international nongovernmental organization, which strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change. Founded in 1998, PMC has over 15 years of field experience using the Sabido methodology of behavior change communications, impacting more than 50 countries around the world. www.populationmedia.org

High Listenership and Good Stories Combine for Large-Scale Behavior Change in Sierra Leone

September 25th, 2014

FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE– Imagine that for 53 cents, you could reach someone in Sierra Leone with entertaining stories that educate about family planning and using bednets to prevent malaria. A United States nonprofit discovered this month that they didn’t have to imagine – the impact was real.

Population Media Center (PMC), a nonprofit, international organization that strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world with entertainment-education strategies, recently completed an impact evaluation of one of its programs in Sierra Leone. Saliwansai (“Puppet on a String”) was a 208-episode drama that aired on nine radio stations throughout Sierra Leone from April 2012 through April 2014.

“We’re excited by the results from the research survey, which was conducted with a nationally representative sample size of 1,098 respondents,” says Kriss Barker, PMC’s Vice President of International Programs. “The results clearly demonstrate the impact of the radio drama. It was entertaining, and the people of Sierra Leone tuned in.”

The results indicate that Saliwansai reached a total estimated audience of three million people between the ages of 15 and 59 years old. The results also estimate that the cost per behavior change for the listeners who, as a result of listening to the program, began discussing family planning with family, friends, or neighbors was $2.54 US and listeners who began using bednets to prevent malaria was $1.62 US.

“The cost per behavior change is important and demonstrates the power of our approach,” says Barker. “Behavior is a hard thing to change and to do it for these costs is remarkable.”

PMC uses a unique form of entertainment-education: long-running serial dramas on radio and TV. These dramas are based on real-life, mirroring every day challenges and solutions and using country data to determine which social and health issues will be addressed in each drama.

The results of Saliwansai on individual metrics demonstrate varying levels of success, such as listeners being:

  • 3.1 times more likely than non-listeners to say that you can decrease your chance of getting AIDS by using a condom every time you have sex
  • 4.1 times more likely than non-listeners to say it’s okay for information about condoms to be discussed on the radio
  • 2.9 times more likely than non-listeners to say they know where they could get a condom if they wanted one
  • 3.7 times more likely than non-listeners to say that a healthy-looking person can have HIV
  • 2.4 times more likely than non-listeners to say they would buy fresh vegetables from someone who has HIV
  • 2.3 times more likely than non-listeners to say that becoming pregnant every year can impact the health of the mother
  • 1.6 times more likely than non-listeners to say they know of an organization or people that advocate against domestic violence

“Results like these are promising,” says Scott Connolly, PMC’s Director of Research. “Sierra Leone  ranks as one of the lowest in the world on some of the United Nations Human Development Index health indicators. We’re pleased to address some of these issues with Saliwansai as part of the ongoing effort to improve life in Sierra Leone.”

 

ABOUT POPULATION MEDIA CENTER (PMC):

Population Media Center is a nonprofit, international nongovernmental organization, which strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change. Founded in 1998, PMC has over 15 years of field experience using the Sabido methodology of behavior change communications, impacting more than 50 countries around the world. www.populationmedia.org

Condoms and Soap Operas to Save the World: A Forum in Arizona

September 24th, 2014

TUCSON, ARIZONA– About 140 people learned about endangered species condoms and soap operas as methods to save the world on September 10th in Tucson, Arizona. The event, titled “How Can Condoms and Soap Operas Save the World?” was co-hosted by the Arizona Chapter of Population Media Center, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the University of Arizona’s Department of Communication.

The audience gathered to hear Bill Ryerson, President of the Population Media Center (PMC), Kieran Suckling, the Director of the Center for Biological Diversity, and Jennifer Aubrey, Associate Professor of Communications at the University of Arizona discuss domestic and international efforts to bring about positive social change.

“It was a great event,” says Keith Kaback, Director of PMC’s Arizona Chapter. “It was gratifying to have a dialogue with the audience about these diverse programs that help improve individual and community well-being.”

The audience learned about PMC’s domestic and international serialized dramas bringing about positive social change; the Center for Biological Diversity’s groundbreaking Endangered Species Program which has distributed 500,000 condoms while demonstrating the link between population and extinction of species; and research from the University of Arizona about reality TV programs like “16 and Pregnant” showing that such programs may not achieve the beneficial social impacts touted by commercial media.

 

ABOUT POPULATION MEDIA CENTER (PMC):

Population Media Center is a nonprofit, international nongovernmental organization, which strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change. Founded in 1998, PMC has over 15 years of field experience using the Sabido methodology of behavior change communications, impacting more than 50 countries around the world. www.populationmedia.org

Democratic Republic of the Congo Tunes in their Radios on September 16th

September 9th, 2014

KINSHASA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO–A new radio show airing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo doesn’t promise to solve every challenge, but it is promising top-notch entertainment that will spur conversation and change.

Radio Okapi, a nationwide radio station in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, starts broadcasting Vivra Verra (“Time Will Tell”) on September 16, 2014. Vivra Verra, written and produced in French, promises action and suspense, but the writers and producers know Vivra Verra’s casts of characters and plot twists will also get the audience talking about important issues, such as maternal and child health, gender-based violence, and adolescent reproductive health.

“Long-running dramas are a powerful vehicle to introduce audiences to important social concepts,” says Bill Ryerson, President of Population Media Center, which is producing the program. “We’ve been telling stories for social development for over 15 years, and we’re very excited to work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to bring our method of entertainment-education to the airwaves.”

Population Media Center (PMC), an international nonprofit based in the United States, specializes in entertainment-education, producing what much of the world would describe as “soap operas” for TV, radio, and the web, but these soap operas effect changes in health and social attitudes and behaviors.

“We’re excited about Vivra Verra,” says Kriss Barker, PMC’s Vice President of International Programs. “Our method for producing these dramas – we use the Sabido Methodology – has been tested through a variety of environments, cultures, and issues. We’re eager to bring our expertise to bear on these important issues facing the Congo.”

As of 2013, the Democratic Republic of the Congo ranked as second to last of all countries on the Human Development index. The Democratic Republic of the Congo also has one of the highest fertility rates in the world, and PMC explains that these two facts are directly connected. PMC works to address human health and human rights issues, which are key factors in lowering fertility.

“When people are empowered with information and choice,” says Ryerson, “the fertility rate drops while health, human rights, and economies advance. In fact, every country that has been reclassified from developing status to developed status since World War II first started with fertility reduction by promoting family planning and small family norms.”

“Radio Okapi welcomes the broadcast of serial dramas as they reconcile the two basic elements of radio: information and entertainment,” says Denis Faoud, Head of Media at the Hirondelle Foundation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo which oversees Radio Okapi. “Such programs are a good complement to our range of program information, such as news programs and cultural programs. This allows us to talk about serious things without necessarily doing so in a serious way.”

PMC also hopes to launch up to four more dramas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to address similar and additional issues in local languages of Lingala, Swahili, Kikongo, and Tshiluba.

“The writers and producers of our programs are always local, and the Vivra Verra staff is superb,” says Barker. “The local PMC staff looks forward to the Vivra Verra characters coming alive in the minds and conversations of people throughout the Congo and seeing real dialogue around important issues.”

This project is funded by DFATD (Canada), the US Embassy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, UNICEF, UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund), DKT International, UN Women, and UNAIDS.

 

ABOUT POPULATION MEDIA CENTER (PMC):
Population Media Center is a nonprofit, international nongovernmental organization, which strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change. Founded in 1998, PMC has over 15 years of field experience using the Sabido methodology of behavior change communications, impacting more than 50 countries around the world. www.populationmedia.org

Two Global Health Corps Fellows Head to Burundi to Change Lives through Radio

July 23rd, 2014

SHELBURNE, VT–“I can’t believe we’ll be in Bujumbura on Friday,” says Alex Bozzette, a 2014-2015 Global Health Corps fellow being placed with Population Media Center. It was a Tuesday, and Bozzette was sitting with his co-fellow, Jean Sacha Barikumutima, in the modest offices of Population Media Center (PMC) in Shelburne, Vermont. On Thursday, July 17, the two would make the 27-hour trip to Bujumbura, Burundi for their year-long placement in PMC’s Burundi office.

“For me, this is the perfect opportunity at the perfect time,” says Bozzette. “It combines my experience in international public health project management with my interests in design and communications. Family planning is a huge priority for public heath, but family planning is also a huge priority for gender equality, environmental sustainability, and economic development.”

This is the first time US-based Population Media Center has teamed up with Global Health Corps to offer year-long paid fellowships in Burundi, one available to a US citizen, Bozzette, and one available to a Burundi citizen, Barikumutima. This opportunity coincides with the launch of a new radio soap opera produced by Population Media Center’s Burundi office to address women and children’s health.

“This year, I’m really excited by PMC’s approach and to see its impact,” says Barikumutima, who had been interning in PMC’s Burundi office when he was awarded the fellowship. “I believe this approach has the ability to address cultural mindsets. It draws people in and as they listen to the drama, they understand the message themselves. I’m excited to see how people change.”

The radio drama, Agashi (“Hey! Look Again!”), addresses issues such as child nutrition and family planning through intriguing storylines and plot twists. Over the course of the episodes, characters demonstrate choices and consequences, learning from their actions and teaching listeners as well. Agashi will run for approximately two years, airing two episodes per week.

Barikumutima, who now lives in Bujumbura, the capital, but grew up in the Kayanza province, explains that many of the issues addressed in Agashi will help individuals and communities that he cares about.

Prior to traveling to Burundi, Bozzette and Barikumutima spent two weeks at Yale University’s campus in New Haven, Connecticut for Global Health Corps training.

“I couldn’t sleep,” says Barikumutima. “I was thinking about things. This is a great opportunity to work on specific issues, and also to work with partners in Burundi to understand what is being done while being part of change. I want to give back to my community. After all this, my family and friends will be proud of me.”

Bozzette will be further from home for the year, but that won’t be a new experience since the California native spent last year coordinating a public health initiative in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

“We come from very different backgrounds, Sacha is from Burundi and I’m from San Diego, but we’re both dissatisfied with the world as-is. The simple truth is that everyone, everywhere, deserves to be healthy, and they aren’t,” says Bozzette. “Global health inequity is wrong, and something needs to change. This year, we are pushing that change in our own small way by promoting women and children’s health with Population Media Center.”

ABOUT POPULATION MEDIA CENTER (PMC):

Population Media Center is a nonprofit, international nongovernmental organization, which strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change. Founded in 1998, PMC has over 15 years of field experience using the Sabido methodology of behavior change communications, impacting more than 50 countries around the world. www.populationmedia.org

ABOUT GLOBAL HEALTH CORPS (GHC):

Global Health Corps mobilizes a global community of emerging leaders to build the movement for health equity. GHC believes young people are the future to solving global health challenges. We place recent college graduates and young professionals from diverse professional backgrounds in health non-profits and government offices in the US, East Africa and Southern Africa for a year of service in order to strengthen and learn from the organizations. Fellows focus on creating solutions for a variety of current health issues like HIV, maternal child health, nutrition, and healthcare access. Through additional training, community building, leadership development and mentorship these young people complete their fellowship with skills to be change-makers and paradigm-shifters in the global health field throughout their careers. Since its founding in 2009, GHC has deployed 322 fellows to work in 7 countries.

http://ghcorps.org/

 

Telephone Surveys in Burundi Enhance an Already Powerful Form of Behavior Change Communication

July 8th, 2014

BUJUMBURA, BURUNDI– Since January, people in Burundi have been listening to a new radio program called Agashi! (“Hey! Look Again!”).  This 208-episode soap opera will air twice per week for two years, and uses Population Media Center’s highly successful entertainment-education approach to behavior change.

Population Media Center (PMC) is a nonprofit organization that uses entertainment-education to address pressing social issues all over the world, impacting more than 50 countries over the past 16 years. All PMC soap operas are steeped in research:

  • formative research to assess the policy and service framework within a country and to determine audience habits and perceptions in order to create realistic characters and settings;
  • research around the greatest health, human rights, and environmental protection needs;
  • clinic monitoring to assess impact of the PMC drama on new and existing clinic clients;
  • listener letters, text messages, and calls to assess understanding and likability of characters and storylines;
  • and endline data to determine the overall impact of a program.

But the PMC-Burundi office has developed a new form of audience research that’s turning out to be tremendously useful to the drama’s writing team: random telephone surveys.  The responses from the telephone surveys are made available to the scriptwriters and producer within a matter of hours.  Such quick turnaround of valuable information from listeners allows the creative team to make revisions to upcoming scripts.  Respondents’ telephone numbers are noted, along with any comments or suggestions they might have about the program, so that the creative team can phone back to get more in-depth feedback if necessary.

The idea for random telephone surveys was sparked by Jean Sacha Barikumutima, a PMC-Burundi intern who went over the pretest results of the first pilot episodes of Agashi. He realized that listeners provided a lot of ideas that could be useful to the creative team in the writing of the episodes.

“I realized that in a society with such a strong oral culture, a telephone survey had the potential to be a very powerful tool,” Barikumutima says.

Barikumutima and Willy Nsengiyumya, the Finance Manager at PMC-Burundi, demonstrated that the telephone surveys were not only the simplest, but also the most cost-effective method for gathering listenership feedback. Barikumutima conducted the first survey in late January, and the results proved incredibly valuable to the creative team.

“This feedback helps the writers understand how people are reacting to the characters and the characters’ decisions,” says Kriss Barker, PMC’s Vice President of International Programs. “They also provide ideas for positive and negative consequences that can be used in future episodes.”

Barikumutima usually conducts the surveys on Thursday and Friday, sometimes continuing through the weekend.  The PMC-Burundi creative team meets the following Monday to discuss the results. PMC-Burundi has conducted four random telephone surveys since launching the drama in January.

Although not statistically significant, the informal telephone surveys also give the PMC-Burundi team a sense of how many people are listening and the geographic distribution of those listeners. In January, about 38 percent of people surveyed said they listened to Agashi. In April, the percentage had risen to 68 percent and every comment noted the entertainment value of the program. One male Agashi  listener said, “For me, Agashi is full of tips and entertainment.  So I continue to follow it.”

“This is such a fantastic, simple, and effective survey,” says Stephanie Tholand, PMC’s Program and Partnership Development Associate. “It’s definitely a tool that every PMC country office will want to include in their program management going forward.”

 

ABOUT POPULATION MEDIA CENTER (PMC):

Population Media Center (PMC) is a nonprofit, international nongovernmental organization, which strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change. Founded in 1998, PMC has over 15 years of field experience using the Sabido methodology of behavior change communications, impacting more than 50 countries around the world. www.populationmedia.org

PMC’s Tom Kazungu Speaks About How to Stop Illegal Trade in Wildlife: with Serial Dramas

June 27th, 2014

Nairobi, Kenya – On June 24th, PMC’s Kenya Country Representative and long-time Sabido Methodology trainer Tom Kazungu spoke to a room full of people who were all concerned about illegal poaching and trade in wildlife products and told them that addressing the issue through entertainment might be the best approach to creating change, and saving species like the African elephant.

Experts predict that the extinction of the African elephant in the wild could happen within eleven years – by 2025 – and the forest elephant could be extinct within ten years – unless drastic changes are made. In addition to losing incredible wild animals, African communities are also seeing increased violence and crime associated with the illegal trade, and those working to stop the poaching are often in a direct line of danger.

It was issues like this that led the United Nations Environmental Programme to host the first UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya. The event took place from June 23-27, 2014 with side panels focused on particular issues. Population Media Center, The Tsavo Trust, and the Kenyan Government partnered to present a side panel on “Illegal Trade in Wildlife.”

The Kenyan government focused on the complexity of wildlife crime and how it needs to be dealt with on various levels of government including enforcement, demand reduction, and legislation. Ian Saunders, COO of The Tsavo Trust, discussed sustainable development and wildlife management practices, and conservation and anti-poaching efforts in East Africa. Kazungu described PMC’s approach as “entertainment with proven social benefits,” citing impressive impacts from previous socially-oriented serial dramas and proposing a long-running TV series to catalyze behavior change and stop illegal wildlife trade. PMC has successfully addressed environmental issues in several of its programs, including deforestation of gorilla habitat in Rwanda, illegal dynamite fishing in Papua New Guinea, and adaptation to climate change in Vietnam.

 

ABOUT POPULATION MEDIA CENTER (PMC):

Population Media Center (PMC) is a nonprofit, international nongovernmental organization, which strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change. Founded in 1998, PMC has over 15 years of field experience using the Sabido methodology of behavior change communications, impacting more than 50 countries around the world. www.populationmedia.org

Mende’s signature propels 5 new serial dramas in D.R. Congo

June 27th, 2014

Kinshasa, D.R. Congo – Tuesday in Kinshasa marked a pivotal point for Population Media Center (PMC), as Lambert Mende, the Congolese Minister of Media, signed a Protocole d’Entente that will allow PMC to launch five new radio serial dramas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Not only will PMC be producing more shows in a single country simultaneously than ever before, but programs will air in five different languages, targeting the Congo’s pressing health and human rights concerns related to reproductive, maternal, and child health.

Pascal Amasi, Mende’s deputy chief of staff and a former journalist, was the major actor in obtaining the signature that sets PMC’s new collection of projects in motion. Mende discussed the value of PMC’s work with Congolese media and encouraged them to promote healthy behavior through their own productions.

Present at the 30-minute ceremony were representatives from UNICEF; UNFPA; UNAIDS, Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development; and UN Women; as well as PMC staff Kriss Barker, Gabin Kifukiau, and Philippe Ntonda. Kriss Barker, PMC Vice President of International Programs, told the minister that Population Media Center is looking forward to a long and fruitful collaboration with the Congolese government.

“This gives us the green light to proceed,” said Barker with a smile, as Mende signed the document in green ink.

 

ABOUT POPULATION MEDIA CENTER (PMC):

Population Media Center (PMC) is a nonprofit, international nongovernmental organization, which strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change. Founded in 1998, PMC has over 15 years of field experience using the Sabido methodology of behavior change communications, impacting more than 50 countries around the world. www.populationmedia.org

RELATED RESOURCES

2010/2011 Annual Report

In 2010-2011, PMC had projects in Brazil, Burkina Faso, Caribbean, Ethiopia, Mexico, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Senegal, Sierra Leone, the United States, Vietnam and a worldwide electronic game.

2010/2011 Annual Report (PDF, 5.5 MB)

Soap Operas for Social Change to Prevent HIV/AIDS

This training guide is designed to be used by journalists and media personnel to plan and execute the production and broadcast of Sabido-style entertainment-education serial dramas for HIV/AIDS prevention, especially among women and girls.

Using the Media to Achieve Reproductive Health and Gender Equity

In 2005, as a companion piece to the training guide, PMC developed a manual documenting best practices in the application of the Sabido methodology of behavior change via entertainment-education.

Read more about these guides and download »