Background: Each year, around 6 million children die from preventable and treatable illnesses before reaching their fifth birthdays (UNICEF, 2016). As a response, UNICEF developed its Facts for Life (FFL) Communication Initiative.
Program background: After an initial pilot phase, in 2014, UNICEF partnered with PCI Media Impact to produce and broadcast the multi-media program Ouro Negro (Black Gold) in Mozambique. The central program component is an Entertainment-Education (EE) radio drama, but also includes radio shows, community theater productions, story discussion guides and digital media. The program aims to improve maternal and child health and social well-being through increased dialogue, a positive shift in knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors, and through linking inner motivations of the target audiences with desired behaviors. Target audiences primarily include women aged 15-35, as well as their partners and adolescents.
Evaluation Methods and Results: The formative research was key to designing the intervention. The pretesting of selected episodes confirmed that the audience understood the main content of the stories and identified with the stories narrated – a critical requirement for behavior change. The process evaluation revealed the extent to which audiences had listened to the program and whether or not the program was available to audiences. Results from the first two seasons (episodes 1 - 84) indicate that between 25 – 30% of the program’s potential radio audience has been exposed to the drama, approximately 1.5 million people (15 years +). According to the quantitative rapid assessment surveys, 50% of listeners follow regularly, with the great majority tuning into new episodes every week. The audience satisfaction is very high, at 90%. This includes 56% of the respondents who reported strongly liking the drama. The post-broadcast influence of Ouro Negro is high. Some 43% of respondents reported discussing Ouro Negro with other people. About 29% listened alone to the program, but a considerable amount listened with family members (67%), most of them spouses, and about 12% tuned in with friends and neighbors. The most common message discussed with others was "keeping children in school," followed by "eating healthy foods," "vaccinating children," "hand washing with soap," "preventing HIV/AIDS," and "registering the birth of children."
Conclusions: Ouro Negro has been successful in reaching the target audience, reinforcing interpersonal communication, and achieving behavior and social change contributing to reduce stunting. Key findings circle around the inner motivation of the target audiences and enabling them to make choices that allow them to live their lives as they wish.
Implications for research and/or practice: Key success factors include the innovative writing format that creates stories rather than an episode, which provides the perfect environment for adding on multi-media program components, expanding partnerships and sustaining the program. Lessons learned include changes in the review process to optimize partner engagement, improved rehearsal techniques with actors to improve the recording quality, and implementing pilot phases to launch new program components.