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PMC Launches its First Radio Serial Drama in Ethiopia

Jun 01, 2002

Population Media Center-Ethiopia (PMC) will launch a research-based radio serial drama designed to address Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS issues in Ethiopia on June 1, 2002 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This is a unique program, the first of its kind ever to be carried out in the country.

The broadcast will start on June 2, 2002 over Radio Ethiopia in two main vernacular languages, Amharic and Oromiffa, spoken by a large percentage of the Ethiopian population. The Amharic serial drama entitled Yeken Kignit (Looking Over One’s Daily Life) and the Oromiffa one, Dhimbibba (Getting the Best Out of Life) will be on the air for a minimum of two years. The soap operas are being launched following a-two-year preparation comprising two stakeholders’ workshops, a series of training sessions for local playwrights on the Sabido Methodology which was tried in Kenya, Tanzania and Mexico and has produced fruitful results.

The theory and methodology based serial dramas to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS were written and produced with the financial support of the Packard Foundation. The preparatory activities were also reinforced by consensus-building among key target audiences, formative research among Amharic and Oromoffa speaking population, and awareness raising discussion forums.

One of the main objectives of the presentation of the serial dramas is to achieve attitudinal and behavioral changes. Past information, education and communication (IEC) endeavors in Ethiopia, especially in the field of Population and HIV/AIDS, have made headways in spreading understanding about population and prevention of HIV/AIDS. However, anticipated behavioral changes have left much to be desired.

It is estimated that there are over three million HIV/AIDS carriers in Ethiopia. Up to now several hundred thousand are reported to have died due to the epidemic. There over half a million orphans in the country who have lost their parents as a result of the spread of HIV/AIDS. Statistics also show that over 50 per cent of the hospital beds in urban areas are occupied by HIV/AIDS victims.

In view of all these, change of behavior is of crucial importance in the fight against the deadly disease since no cure exists for it up now. The tested results of the Sabido Methodology in Mexico, Kenya and Tanzania have produced positive results in these countries.

It is believed that much progress would be made in Ethiopia in the years to come based on the contributions of the serial dramas.

The preparatory steps taken for the soap operas over the past two years also include a literature review, assessment of existing media activities and formative research both on the issues to be integrated in the message and perception of the target audience at large.

The official launching ceremony will take place at the Sheba Hall, Ghion Hotel, on June 1, 2002. The ceremony will be attended by top-ranking government officials and a cross-section of the Ethiopian society including stakeholders and representatives of the non-governmental organization.

William Ryerson, President of the PMC-International will address the launching ceremony.

Population Media Center is a U.S. based international non-governmental organization which specializes on research based media communication activities for addressing population and HIV/AIDS issues. It has branches in various parts of the world and PMC-Ethiopia was established two years ago.