Greetings from Ethiopia, where, today, PMC-Ethiopia celebrates its 10th anniversary. With 740 episodes produced and aired to date, several radio magazine programs and talk shows, more than ten publications, and numerous workshops, PMC-Ethiopia celebrates its tenth year as the leading organization for entertainment-education for social change in Ethiopia.
Just one year after starting PMC, Bill Ryerson, President, visited Ethiopia and met Dr. Negussie Teffera. At the time, Dr. Negussie was working as head of the National Office of Population for the Government of Ethiopia; previously he worked as a radio producer – a perfect fit for PMC’s work. Soon after this visit, Dr. Negussie joined PMC as the Country Representative for Ethiopia, and now ten years later, Dr. Negussie has carried out six highly impactful programs in the country.
Ryerson is thrilled that PMC-Ethiopia is reaching this milestone, “Dr. Negussie has served as an inspiring leader for the staff and creative personnel connected with our work. It is his special approach, combined with the very significant impact of PMC’s six projects in Ethiopia, that has led to continued commitment by donors and the government of Ethiopia in support of our work.”
PMC-Ethiopia utilizes the Whole Society Strategy, an approach developed by PMC that seeks to reach people through a range of media channels and formats to reinforce the messages and role modeling provided in the radio serial dramas. Ryerson states, “PMC-Ethiopia has been a role model for all PMC programs around the world, both in the continuity of effort over many years and in the comprehensive approach taken in our work there.”
Ethiopia is the second most populous country in sub-Saharan Africa, with 84.5 million people. It is also one of the poorest developing nations. The country has had to deal with droughts and famines. Over the past ten years, PMC-Ethiopia has implemented a variety of projects focusing on some of the most important issues facing Ethiopia, such as: family planning, HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, women’s empowerment, and gender based violence, with special emphasis on harmful traditional practices including Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C). These programs simultaneously addressed the issues through radio dramas, traveling stage plays, capacity building workshops, print materials, and talk shows for social change.
Central to PMC-Ethiopia’s work is the production of Sabido-style radio serial dramas. They have produced five primetime serial dramas of more than 100 episodes each. The overwhelming popularity of these programs throughout the country is one of the main reasons for PMC’s great success. Dr. Negussie reports, “We have received more than 27,000 listener letters and 7,000 diaries from listeners indicating that the content of the programs influenced them to change their behaviors.”
Dr. Negussie explains some of the changes they have witnessed as a result of PMC programs, “Quite a substantial number of men and women have started to use family planning.” He said a significant proportion of young people “have refrained from sex until marriage or are using condoms, or have only one partner.” Dr. Negussie gives credit to his team of writers and actors, who have shown commitment, love for their country, and passion for their work. Most of the writers and actors have been with PMC since the first program went on the air in Ethiopia.
The serial dramas have had a tremendous impact on the behaviors and attitudes of listeners. During the first program, health care workers conducted about 14,400 exit interviews at clinics and hospitals and found that 63% of their clients were listening to a PMC program and 26% of clients cited one of PMC’s programs as the reason for coming to the clinic. The research carried out before and after the programs went on the air has also pointed to significant behavior change that can be attributed to the serial dramas.
Part of PMC’s strategy has been to implement training workshops on the issues being addressed in the programs. For example, PMC held training workshops on the issue of FGM for community and religious leaders in various regions of the country, with a strong focus on the Somali and Afar regions. These workshops resulted in significant policy changes with regard to the practice of FGM. Religious leaders are a very important group to involve when trying to create social change, as they are powerful members of society and are very influential in the communities. The training workshops for religious leaders have been a very valuable component in creating sustainable change in these communities. At the conclusion of the workshop in the Afar region, religious leaders made commitments to stop circumcising their own children in order to become role models for the community.
It is impossible to adequately capture the breadth of PMC-Ethiopia’s programs and the impact they have had on the country in this short article. Their impressive work has contributed to an increase of use of family planning, a reduction in harmful traditional practices such as FGM/C, improvement in the status of women, and overall improved quality of life in Ethiopia.
PMC is overjoyed to be celebrating 10 years in Ethiopia, and would like to express our deepest gratitude to Dr. Negussie and the entire PMC-Ethiopia team. The talents and dedication of the team is remarkable. Their work has had a substantial impact in the country and is helping to achieve PMC’s mission worldwide.
Please join us in congratulating and supporting the tremendous work of PMC-Ethiopia over the course of the past 10 years, by helping to support their very important efforts in the years to come.
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