On July 31, 2007 Population Media Center launched its second social content radio serial drama in Nigeria. Through the use of character role-models, the drama aimed to enhance knowledge and utilization of existing health services, provide important information about reproductive health and general health issues, encourage use of family planning, promote delaying marriage and childbearing until adulthood, promote small family norms, provide information about HIV transmission, and motivate people to take actions to improve their health and the health of their families. PMC aired 234 episodes over two years.
The program titled, Ruwan Dare (“Midnight Rain”) was broadcast in Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Sokoto states in northern Nigeria. At the time, these states had the lowest levels of knowledge about contraceptive methods and the lowest exposure to family planning messages in Nigeria. These states also had the highest fertility rates, largest desired family size (between 6 and 10 children), highest population growth rates, and highest rates of unmet need for contraception in Nigeria.
Ruwan Dare was created as a result of the remarkable success of PMC’s program that aired in 2006-2007 in Kano and Kaduna states in northern Nigeria. The program, titled Gugar Goge (“Tell it to Me Straight”), was a highly popular radio serial drama that addressed issues relating to maternal health and obstetric fistula (a condition commonly resulting from obstructed labor during childbirth that leaves victims incontinent). The evaluation of Gugar Goge pointed to widespread changes in behaviors and attitudes among audience members with regard to the issues addressed in the program. It was this success that inspired the production of Ruwan Dare, which was created using the same methodology, but with new characters and storylines.
A 26 year-old listener and mother of three from Katsina, named Zainab, said that the program opened her eyes to the importance of family planning. Zainab said the program had taught her a lot and that she would be at the forefront of making sure others reap the many benefits of the program. A 30 year-old listener named Usman Aliu said that the program enlightened him on health related issues that before he knew little about.
In Sokoto, listeners talked about the importance of Ruwan Dare addressing the issue of girls’ education because it was greatly lagging in the northern states.
At the encouragement of listeners in Kano, PMC-Nigeria started a talk show call-in program, where people could phone in and talk about the issues addressed in Ruwan Dare.
Ruwan Dare aired on four radio stations in northern Nigeria: FRCN (Kaduna), Companion FM (Katsina), Rima Radio (Sokoto), and Freedom Radio (Kano). The program concluded in July 2009.
Ruwan Dare was made possible with support from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Conservation, Food and Health Foundation and new support from an individual contributor.