Contraceptives and Couple Communication: The Impact of Umurage 2
PMC’s Long-Running Umurage Series Continues Across Rwanda
Together with Umurage Communication for Development (UmC), PMC-Rwanda has entertained Rwandans with the popular Umurage series since 2007. The early success of Umurage Urukwiye and the importance of its messages on environmental protection and the rights of women and girls led way for three sequel programs of a slightly shorter name: Umurage 1, Umurage 2, and currently in production, Umurage 3. The success of the series has continued over the years, including Umurage 2, the third in the series, which captured 3.5 million loyal listeners across five different radio stations.
To better understand audience engagement and interaction with the series, PMC-Rwanda and UmC conducted a qualitative participatory evaluation for Umurage 2. The study, which took place prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, posed open-ended questions about the show to men and women of different ages from urban and rural areas of Rwanda.
What Rwandans Are Saying About Umurage 2
Themes that emerged from the study included improved couple communication and understanding the benefits of family planning methods. These results stood out to PMC researchers because the show was strategically designed with storylines addressing adolescent reproductive health, family planning, and health services.
“Following the messages passed through Umurage 2, my husband and I thought of a modern contraceptive method to use. The Gasake [Umurage character] family taught us a lot. I immediately decided to go for a five-year contraceptive plan so as to first cater for the child we have before getting another one, who we also intend to give a good life.” –Female listener, Bugesera District
Gasake’s storyline addressed family planning with an emphasis on couple communication and adopting modern contraceptives. It features Gasake and his wife, Dancilla, and their two children, and characters Papias and Margo.
“What I learned and liked much from Umurage 2, as a father and a married person, is the story about Koffi and Teta. Messages encouraged couples to go for family planning. [It also encouraged] communication among couples, which is sometimes difficult, especially with us men, to give time to our wives to agree on the number [of] children to have and not dictating just because you are a man. This helped me like Gasake, who found it not easy at first but later had people to advise him.” –Male listener, Gasabo District
Teta’s storyline addresses maternal and child health (with a focus on antenatal and postnatal care).
“The lesson I learned from Umurage 2 is that couples’ communicating about their reproductive health is important in making the process of family planning go well.” –Female listener, Nyarugene District
“Following the show made me realize that family planning is important, whether you have one or two children. My husband and I learned to discuss together which method to use. This is what I personally learned because I even first thought that using contraceptives was bad. Later I learned from Umurage that it helps in family development.” –Female listener, Bugesera District
“Umurage 2 talks about couple communication and family planning. Once a family lives peacefully and is in family planning, there is security, no quarrels, and develops faster than that with so many children.” –Female listener, Rulindo District
The most recent installment of the Umurage series started in June 2020 and will run through June 2021. In addition to storylines on reproductive health and gender-based violence, Umurage 3 also includes COVID-19 themes, directly reflecting the reality in Rwanda and the rest of the world.