Two New Radio Programs Launch in Nigeria to Entertain and Educate

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Population Media Center launches two new radio programs in Nigeria. Although the programs are supremely entertaining, their ultimate goal is to educate about important health and family planning issues to improve the health of women and children.

Actors read the scripts for a new radio soap opera in Nigeria.

Actors read the scripts for a new radio soap opera in Nigeria.

Characters and messages can only be meaningful if they’re defined by the culture.

In Nigeria, most people turn to the radio for entertainment. This November, Population Media Center launched two new radio dramas in Nigeria that will air once per week for the next nine months. However, these soap operas bring something in addition to intriguing characters and lots of drama – these soap operas also educate.

“Two radio serial dramas, “Tafigawalo” (Working Towards Change) and “Hannunika Mai Sanda” (Power in Your Hands), are now at the broadcast stage,” says Ephraim Okon, Population Media Center’s country representative in Nigeria. “It has been challenging, but worth while as we hope to improve people’s health and well-being.”

Population Media Center is based in Shelburne, Vermont, but has worked in over 50 countries in its 15 year history. In every country, Population Media Center’s dramas are written, performed, and produced by locals.

“Characters and messages can only be meaningful if they’re defined by the culture,” says Kriss Barker, Population Media Center’s Vice President for International Programs. “That’s why we train and hire staff for each program. Each story has to be uniquely crafted to be effective.”

The new programs in Nigeria will be addressing a number of issues. “Tafigawalo,” which is in Pidgin, addresses family planning, safe motherhood, adolescent reproductive health, girls’ secondary education, and HIV/AIDS. “Hannunika Mai Sanda,” which is in Hausa, addresses early marriage, a health condition caused by early childbearing called obstetric fistula, family planning, reproductive health, and girls’ education. The programs will be broadcast in different regions of the country, aligning with the language and information needs identified by Population Media Center’s formative research.

“We impart information to people by creating believable characters dealing with regular issues,” says Barker. “When Dela pulls her 12-year-old daughter Aisha out of school to be married to a much older man for a dowry, our listeners will follow Aisha as she becomes pregnant before her young body is ready. We don’t need to preach messages because the consequences of different behaviors are clearly demonstrated. People are smart – they make connections for themselves.”

Population Media Center (PMC) is a nonprofit, international nongovernmental organization, which strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change. Founded in 1998, PMC has over 15 years of field experience using the Sabido methodology of behavior change communications, impacting more than 50 countries around the world.

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Missie Thurston
Population Media Center
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