Sierra Leone

PMC produced Saliwansai (“Puppet On A String”) in Sierra Leone. This 208-episode radio show aired April 1, 2012 through April 2014 in Krio, a language which up to 95 percent of Sierra Leone’s population can either speak or understand.

Saliwansai aired twice per week on nine radio stations in Sierra Leone. PMC partnered with Star Radio and 8 community radio stations to achieve national distribution. PMC also teamed up with Hollywood actress Alexandra Paul to train actors for Saliwansai.

As with all PMC radio shows, Saliwansai was created using PMC’s radio show methodology.

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Making a Difference

Imagine that for 53 cents, you could reach someone in Sierra Leone with entertaining stories that educate every week. PMC’s endline results indicate that Saliwansai reached a total estimated audience of 3 million loyal listeners 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.

Clinic monitoring was conducted in 12 districts across the country over 5 months. Out of all facility clients (1746), the percentage of clients citing Saliwansai as influential in their decision to seek services was 50 percent for the entire country.

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

Family Planning:
• Listeners were 3.7 times more likely than non-listeners to say that they talked to their spouse/partner frequently about family planning in the last 3 months
• Listeners were 2.2 times more likely than non-listeners to say access to contraception would not encourage infidelity
• Listeners were 1.8 times more likely than non-listeners to say that they would use a contraceptive method to delay or avoid pregnancy in the future
• Listeners were 9 times more likely than non-listeners to say their spouse/partner approves couples using a method to avoid getting pregnant
• Listeners were 4.1 times more likely than non-listeners to say it’s okay for information about condoms to be discussed on the radio
• Listeners were 2.9 times more likely than non-listeners to say that they knew how to obtain a condom

• Listeners were 3.7 times more likely than non-listeners to say that a healthy-looking person can have HIV
• Listeners were 2.4 times more likely than non-listeners to say they would buy fresh vegetables from someone who has HIV
• Listeners were 1.6 times more likely than non-listeners to say they know of an organization or people that advocate against domestic violence
• Listeners were 1.6 times more likely than non-listeners to say that people can reduce their chance of getting the AIDS virus by not having sexual intercourse at all
• Listeners were 2.2 times more likely than non-listeners to say that it is possible for the virus that causes AIDS to be transmitted from a mother to her baby during pregnancy
• Listeners were 1.7 times more likely than non-listeners to indicate that it was 23 months ago or less when they were last tested for the AIDS virus


50 percent of clinic clients cited Saliwansai as motivation for seeking services.

(Clinic Monitoring)


Listeners were 3.1 times more likely to say that you can decrease your chance of getting AIDS by using a condom every time you have sex than non-listeners.

(Endline Research)


Listeners were 2.9 times more likely to say they know where they could get a condom if they wanted to than non-listeners.

(Endline Research)

Project Information

Title: Saliwansai (“Puppet On A String”)
Format: Radio Show
Location: Sierra Leone
Language: Krio
Duration: April 2012 – April 2014

Download Saliwansai Fact Sheet

Administrative Team:
PMC Country Representative: Vickynatu Sonia Johnson
Technical Assistant: Fatmata Dainkeh Kargbo
Finance Assistant: Bintu M. Koroma
Facilities Manager: Sylvester M. Koroma
Driver: Hassan Marrah

Creative Team:
Producer: Abraham Foday
Audio/Visual (Studio) Technician: Abdulraman Samurah
Head Writer: Othman Kamara
Writers: Abie Sinnah, Sarah Musu Marah, Vandy Bawoh, Sahr Kumba, Ibrahim Rashid Kamara

News Related to this Project:

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

September 25, 2014 — FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE– Imagine that for 53 cents, you could reach someone in Sierra Leone with entertaining stories... Keep reading.


Abu’s story

Abu is 35 years old, and lives with his mother and brother in a rural village. Abu is newly married and spends his days drinking palm wine while his wife collects palm kernels. His idea of a proper wife is one who produces children, tills the land, and never questions what he says. Abu’s wife gets pregnant, but the child barely survives. She gets pregnant again a few months later, before recovering, and gets diagnosed with anemia. Abu grudgingly takes care of her. Meanwhile, Abu’s brother Momoh has a second child; he and his wife support family planning and they decide not to have any more kids. When his wife gets pregnant for a third time, Abu is unable to pay his wife’s hospital bills and decides to sell his farm to his brother. Instead, his brother and sister agree to help him financially, but they tell Abu that his wife will die if he does not accept family planning methods. Realizing the error of his ways, Abu becomes a much more helpful husband and can afford to send his daughter to school. Unfortunately, Abu’s mother becomes detached from her children, unable to see the benefits of this new culture of family planning.

Issues this storyline addresses:

Hingah’s story

Hingah is a college student. Under pressure from others, he starts dating his friend Monica. They start to have unprotected sex until Hingah becomes ill and his grades fall. Hingah loses his scholarship, but Monica gives him money to continue his studies; this rekindles their romance. Hingah is unaware that Monica has been sleeping with other men. His health deteriorates and a friend advises him to get tested for HIV. Hingah tests negative for HIV, but must stay at the hospital to receive treatment for another STI. Monica informs him that she is pregnant with their child, and asks him to leave his treatment to come see her. Instead, he returns to Monica after completing his treatment, and discovers that she has had an abortion. She still does not want to use a condom when they have sex, fearing that it will get stuck inside her. Hingah has learned about protected sex through a friend, and he and Monica split up. After graduation, Monica finds out she has HIV. This causes her severe stress and anxiety, and she commits suicide. Hingah returns to his hometown after graduation and falls in love with his childhood friend, Wara.

Issues this storyline addresses:

Gibo’s story

Gibo lives with his older brother Joe and Joe’s two wives. Joe treats both wives badly, and Gibo sees nothing wrong with his brother’s behavior. He soon falls in love with a woman. They move in together, and she becomes pregnant. Although he loves her, he is verbally and physically abusive and is taken to a family support unit for his abuse. The woman leaves him, and their child dies of malaria; Gibo is lonely and frustrated when he hears the news. Then, the police arrest Gibo for sheltering his brother Joe from the law. Upon release, Gibo goes on a fishing voyage and saves enough money to marry his girlfriend. Joe gets out of prison and asks his brother for help, realizing that his wives have left him.  Gibo and his wife have a new business partner, and Joe attempts to rape her when she comes to Gibo’s house for a business transaction. The rape attempt is reported and Joe lands in jail for good. Gibo and his wife join a local organization to fight gender-based violence.

Wara’s story

Wara is 15 years old and her mother has disappeared. She is sent home from school because her tuition fees have not been paid. Her father hesitantly gives her the tuition money, but Wara uses it to try to locate her mother. She misses so much school in her fruitless quest that she must repeat a year. Her father decides that she should work on a farm instead of going to school, but then a local shopkeeper asks to marry Wara and her father agrees for a dowry. The shopkeeper has three wives, but no male heirs. Wara soon becomes pregnant, and the shopkeeper dotes on her, hoping for a boy. The other wives resent her for his favoritism. Meanwhile, Wara’s childhood friend Hingah returns home and asks the village chief to investigate his father’s murder because he thinks Wara’s father killed him. Wara gives birth to a stillborn baby after a long and painful labor, and develops obstetric fistula. The shopkeeper refuses to take Wara to a hospital and returns her to her father, who refuses her. Wara stays in an abandoned farm hut until a friend’s mother takes her to the hospital for fistula repair. She eventually returns to school and marries her childhood friend. She starts a club at school advocating against early marriage and fistula, and he friend’s mother is awarded a large tract of land upon which she can build a hospital. Wara’s father is put in jail for killing her friend’s father, and likely her mother as well.

Issues this storyline addresses:

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