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A picture of black gorilla. The gorilla is partially covered by tree branches

Saving Apes with the Jane Goodall Institute

Sep 18, 2018

Photo by Carlos Drews courtesy of the Jane Goodall Institute.

The main objective of The Journal of Development Communication is to examine the role of communication in national and regional development. The most recent edition of the journal includes an article authored by three Population Media Center (PMC) employees, Kriss Barker, Fatou Jah, and Scott Connolly, titled “A Radio Drama for Apes? An Entertainment-Education Approach to Supporting Ape Conservation Through an Integrated Human Behaviour, Health, and Environment Serial Drama.”

The article highlights a partnership between PMC and the Jane Goodall Institute to support the Jane Goodall Institute’s 2012-2022 Conservation Action Plan for the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The PMC initiative consisted of a 156-episode radio show called Pambazuko (“New Dawn”) that aired from February 2016 to August 2017. The program was designed to reach large audiences and inspire attitudes and behaviors toward conservation – with impressive results. For example, listeners were 2.9 times more likely than non-listeners to say they had been involved in protecting animal species in the past year. Listeners were also two times more likely than non-listeners to say they had been involved in protecting the forest in the past year.

Pambazuko brought powerful and fun storylines to life,” says PMC Program Manager Lindsay Reid. “Pambazuko provided information, or corrected misinformation, about a variety of issues. The show took issues like reproductive health and contraception, girls’ education, and wildlife protection and demonstrated why and how these things were relevant in the lives of the audience.”

This partnership between PMC and the Jane Goodall Institute highlights how human behavior is essential to the success of environmental conservation efforts. Mass media is an important and needed tool to impact behaviors – particularly at scale.

“The results were encouraging,” says Reid. “It’s estimated that 30% of our target audience had heard of Pambazuko and 16% listened to more than half of the episodes. To reach more than 350,000 people at least once per week for 1.5 years – that scale of impact is just part of why entertainment can be so successful at changing social norms.”

The Journal of Development Communication is published by the Asian Institute for Development Communication (Aidcom) and is a non-profit peer-review journal. It has been published since 1990.