|The Essential Handbook. Radio and HIV/AIDS: Making a Difference. A guide for radio practitioners, health workers and donors (UNAIDS, 2000, 128 p.)|
NGO sponsoring youth radio in Senegal (photograph by Mary Myers)
Partnerships with other media
It is a basic rule of development communications that two media are better than one for conveying information in an accurate and memorable way. Where circumstances and money allow, you are likely to make more impact if you join up with other media to promote a health issue.
How do you decide which other media to use in addition to radio?
Look to your target audience. What does your research tell you about their other sources of information and whose opinions they respect?
· what is the level of literacy, especially amongst women? What do they read regularly?
· do they have TVs or access to TVs or to videos/video parlours?
· what traditional forms of communication can be used eg puppets, street theatre, popular teenage magazine, films
Armed with this information, approach other media which are popular with your target audience. Often (with TV especially) the cost of airtime will be a major constraint. But newspapers and magazines can often appreciate well-written articles on HIV/AIDS: people are concerned about their health, and they can make popular reading. Remember the newspaper story of Namkang in Thailand (see Section 2 - Selecting issues, page 34) which conveyed a very poignant message about the social consequences of HIV.
Using two or more media is possible even in an area of conflict, for example Afghanistan, and will present few problems in a country such as South Africa where the media infrastructure is highly developed.
Partnerships with other organisations
Aid organisations know what they want to say but often dont know how to say it: the media knows how to say it, but dont always know much about the issue.
It is often a paradox that NGOs spend much effort in marketing themselves but very little time on using the media to support their relief and development programmes.
HIV/AIDS broadcasting initiatives require partnerships for
· funding: but donors first need convincing that radio is a useful development tool
· official blessing: a health education initiative has to be in line with government policy, so the Ministry of Health or the national AIDS office needs to know what is planned; they may well be able to offer advice and support
· expert advice: health above all cannot be broadcast without consulting public health specialists who know about the target audience
· reinforcement of HIV/AIDS messages: health workers are the obvious people to reinforce impact, but they need to know about what the key messages are in advance and to be given briefings and/or print support
· if the campaign involves providing services, such as condoms, then the organisations distributing these services need to be part of the campaign, and they need to be confident they can distribute enough supplies to satisfy expected demand
Remember: many organisations may be sceptical about developing a working relationship with the media to support a health education initiative.
Try and place a series of linked articles in newspapers or magazines - they make much more of an impact than a one-off article.
SOUL CITY: A MULTI-MEDIA TREND-SETTER
Few health education projects have used the media so comprehensively as South Africas Soul City, a primary health care initiative involving linked TV and radio soap operas in a total of nine languages, a newspaper supplement serialised during the thirteen week run of the radio and TV series, a public relations campaign involving competitions and articles on radio, TV and the newspapers, and a multi media educational package aimed at heath and community workers. Not surprisingly, the impact of Soul City has been remarkable: the TV series was the most popular show on South African television and over 50% of black South Africans saw or heard the series. Even more remarkable, the project has attracted major commercial sponsorship and is set for a secure future.
Japhet, Goldstein (1997)
TWO MEDIA TOGETHER
The BBC soap opera New Home, New Life is supported by a UNESCO-funded monthly cartoon magazine which carries a pictorial version of the soap opera action, with the major educational messages highlighted in the text. The magazine is very popular and a prized possession of listeners, especially children: this is despite a 70% illiteracy rate and an on-going war which makes distribution difficult. Reasons for its popularity are the simple language it uses and the fact that it depicts the characters of the highly popular New Home, New Life. The major problem is funding: Afghans cant afford to buy it, so the market is NGOs involved in education and health. Meanwhile UNESCO continues to subsidise its production.
A commonly held view is that
· the media are unreliable: they will quote inaccurately or out of context
· tangling with the media means publicity; that could mean risking embarrassment, problems with the boss, or difficulties with the government
· fear that the media will misrepresent HIV/AIDS information for the sake of a creating a sellable (but inaccurate) story
Cambodia has the fastest growing AIDS epidemic in the Asia-Pacific region. NGOs have formed the HIV/AIDS Coordination Committee (HACC). One member agency, PSI, runs a radio soap opera, supported by a phone-in programme. Both are broadcast on one of the most popular FM stations. Another, World Vision, supplies articles to a popular youth magazine, and a third, Health Unlimited, runs training workshops on how to use the media for HIV/AIDS awareness in addition to producing a regular talks show on FM radio.
So how can a radio station build confidence with a potential partner?
· get the facts you broadcast right consistently. Consult organisations involved with HIV/AIDS education to check
· dont extract money from aid agencies in return for the basic minimum of airtime - show you are a public service broadcaster and are interested in health issues because they are important to your listeners. A receptive radio station is soon in demand amongst aid organisations
· give discounted airtime charges to health education and other non-profit causes
· if you need equipment such as cassette recorders, you could be in luck: many aid organisations find it easier to provide equipment and even training, rather than pay for airtime
· create your own regular health education programmes - you can find sponsors from pharmaceutical companies or condom distributors (but beware of unsuitable sponsors such as tobacco or drink companies). Take advice if you are not sure about a clash of interest between sponsors and programming
· fulfil your contracts with aid organisations and government departments: broadcast the agreed schedule of health information spots at the times agreed. Prime time slots are what matters in making an impact
· offer programming time to discuss HIV/AIDS issues in phone-ins and other discussion programmes
· HIV/AIDS issues are often newsworthy, so carry it in the news
Remember that well produced health programmes are popular with listeners - they can boost your radio stations ratings.
ALL AGAINST AIDS: ZAMBIAS COPPERBELT
Well informed, objective and responsible reporting can help foster a climate of public opinion in which AIDS is addressed in a spirit of openness and honesty. On the other hand, inaccurate, sensationalist or misleading reporting of AIDS-related issues can foster fear, prejudice and panic amongst the general public. All Against Aids has made a major effort to provide Zambian journalists with information about AIDS: one day workshops and seminars are organised several times a year for groups of 15 - 35 people; occasional talks on issues such as breastfeeding and AIDS are given at the Press Club; invitations are sent to journalists to attend events such as the launch of new HIV/AIDS booklets, poster competitions or World Aids Day; All Against Aids also makes a point of making staff available to respond to spontaneous queries from journalists.
As a result, All Against Aids believes that mutual respect and good will has built up between the organisation and journalists in Zambias copperbelt. This is because the journalists know that they are not regarded as simply a way of getting free publicity but as equal partners in a vitally important task.
Abstract from Mouli (1992)
One of the reasons why basic education campaigns have in the past often had little success is that the information was poorly researched, and was perceived by (often rural) listeners to be fantasy solutions of the educated townspeople who had no idea of the real problems of the countryside. To establish credibility, the audience has to believe it has a stake in the information that is being broadcast, that they have been consulted and that their views are being reflected. That way, the chances are they will take notice of the health programmes (see Section 1 - Initial research).
HINTS for broadcasters
Dont be tempted to broadcast advice
· that the audience already knows
If you do - it will badly dent the credibility of your radio station.
How can I find the money I need to put on a special series for HIV/AIDS programmes?
Find out the most likely source of funding for this kind of project: international organisations such as UNAIDS through their partners UNICEF and UNFPA (United Nations Fund for Population Activities) have funds for HIV/AIDS activities which can be accessed through country offices. Many embassies also have funds for development projects - ask the Information Department. International NGOs such as CARE, Oxfam and Save the Children Fund (UK) (SCF), may have modest funding available so it is worth trying them too.
Before submitting a project proposal, speak to the relevant official and confirm that the organisation (a) has funds and (b) would be interested in considering your proposal. If you cant meet the right person, find out who he or she is and write a brief concept note (no longer than two pages), laid out like this
· name of radio station: address, name of contact person
· profile of listeners: numbers, sex, age group (support with research data or other evidence such as numbers of listeners letters)
· geographic area reached by your broadcasts
· project objectives: what you hope your broadcasts will achieve
· project activities: a brief description of the programmes, what kind of format
· project partners
· budget: an estimated overall cost is sufficient at this stage
NGO INVOLVEMENT IN MEDIA INITIATIVES
Health Unlimited, a small British NGO specialising in training health workers in areas of conflict, had worked for five years in Cambodia before they decided to use their knowledge of health conditions in the country to help make radio and TV programmes which could reach most of the population of eight million. Training local radio producers and health workers in educational programming is a key part of the project: in fact, the local staff have produced programmes for two HIV/AIDS campaigns and one birth spacing campaign with the help of international media specialists. Project trainees are now producing a weekly phone-in health education programme, supported by a column in a popular Khmer teenage magazine. Health Unlimited, who also hosted the Creative Radio for Development conference in May 1996, has appointed a media programme manager on to its staff, and is about to embark on radio-led health education projects in Somalia and the Great Lakes Region of Africa.
In Vietnam, CARE International has obtained European Union funding to recruit actors, producers, and technicians to produce the countrys first ever TV soap opera. The title is Wind blows through dark and light, and the subject is HIV/AIDS which is spreading rapidly in South-East Asia. There are 30 half hour episodes and CARE hopes that up to 15 million will tune in to the drama which will deal with subjects as varied as love, feuds, car crashes and smuggling. CAREs idea is also to promote the sexual assertiveness of women to encourage their partners to adopt safer sexual practices, and also to promote compassion for those in the community living with HIV/AIDS.
In Thailand, a community based HIV/AIDS support organisation called ACCESS has chosen a different route to tackle the information challenge. It has built its own small radio studio on a shoestring budget, and runs it with three staff, only one of whom is adequately qualified. Nonetheless, it produces five and a half hours programming a week for stations in Bangkok, and Changrai in the north of the country. These programmes are specifically aimed at people living with HIV/AIDS and their families, and they provide a mass information dimension to the face to face counselling, health home-care support, training and peer education activities which are ACCESSs major activities.
According to ACCESSs Director, Jon Ungphakorn, his major difficulties with the radio programmes are negotiating prime time slots at reasonable prices. Airtime charges in Thailand have got up twenty-fold in the past four years. There have been so many changes of stations and frequencies carrying his programmes that he believes most people hear them by chance. There have also been problems with programme quality - his part-time production team finds coming up with fresh ideas is difficult, and an attempt to have AIDS support groups produce their own programmes failed because of insufficient time and skills. Still, he believes radio is a vital medium and ACCESS programmes are valued, particularly in Changrai. He thinks that public information has made it no longer acceptable to voice hostility openly towards people living with HIV/AIDS, but the prejudice still exists - only now it is hidden.
Gordon Adam (1997)
HINTS for NGOs/donars/governments
Be aware that the local media, professionally implemented, can be of great assistance in promoting health issues. Choose your radio station with care: criteria include
· wide listenership amongst your target audience
· throwing money and some scripts at a radio station then walking away will not produce health education programmes which will make a difference
If you receive a favourable response, you will probably be asked to submit a project proposal. Some organisations have special formats for project proposals, so you should ask for guidelines. If they have no specific guidelines, then the following format may be helpful
· name of radio station; address, phone number, contact person
· summary: write this last but it comes first
· what you propose to do
· why it is worthwhile
· how much will it cost
· this should be half a page, maximum
· profile of listeners to your station: numbers, sex, age group (support with research data or other evidence such as numbers of listeners letters)
· geographic area reached by your broadcasts
· project objectives: what you hope your broadcasts will achieve. Just a few sentences, but think carefully about what the most important objectives are, for example, to reduce the risk of HIV/AIDS infection amongst rural teenage girls through providing well researched and targeted information by lively radio programming'
· project activities: a brief description of the programmes, what kind of format? What extra work will be involved by staff in order to put the programmes together? Details of any travel they might have to undertake to assess the needs of the target audience, and to record interviews. Not too much detail. These activities should be related to the budget lines (see budget, see page 86)
· outputs: how many programmes, how long each are, over how many weeks will they be broadcast
· beneficiaries: who are your target audience for the broadcasts. If they are women, vulnerable people or marginalised groups, emphasise this. Many aid organisations make a point of encouraging people to help themselves, and information is an important part of this process
· partners: who will your partners be in this project, where will you find your HIV/AIDS education expertise; are any organisations backing up the broadcasts with activities on the ground, reinforcing the HIV/AIDS key messages to people at risk? It is important to mention them
· sustainability: how will the project funding help your radio station improve the quality of its health education broadcasting after the end of the funding period? Improved staff skills and increased awareness of the health needs of the target audience are the kind of outcomes which funders would be interested in
· monitoring and evaluation: how will you assess their impact; details of audience research (see Section 9 - Monitoring and evaluation, focus group discussions etc)
· budget: this has to be an accurate and detailed breakdown of the extra costs you would be incurring in mounting the project (see project activities, page 85). Budget line items include
- personnel: how many days work for how many people at how much per day, for all the work involved
- equipment: tape recorders, cassettes, batteries etc
- travel: where to, how many trips, round trip cost; also cost of meals and lodging for nights away (remember to include costs of evaluators in this)
- management support: number of days, cost per day
- estimated cost of telephones calls, faxes, stationery
- contingencies: unexpected costs - allow 5% of the overall budget
HINT for radio stations
If possible, avoid charging airtime costs in project proposals. Funders want to see a contribution from organisations receiving grants, and the cost of putting health education material on the air is likely to be seen as the minimum contribution a radio station should make.
References and Further Reading
Adam, G (March 1997) Report on research visit to Thailand
Chandra Mouli, V (1992) All Against AIDS: The Copperbelt Health Education Project, Zambia, Action Aid, Strategies for Hope No 7, Hamlyn House, Archway, London N19 5PG
Japhet, G and Goldstein, S (May 1997) Education for Social Change, Abstract of presentation given in the University of Ohio at the JHCC Programs 2nd Conference of Entertainment