As part of a coronavirus emergency response in the four FutureLife-Now! pilot countries, MIET AFRICA developed a communication and advocacy strategy to reach young people, their families, and broader communities with factually accurate information on the virus.
This included introducing radio programmes as a component of the FutureLife-Now! programme, because radio can be used to inform, educate, advocate and promote social learning, as well as entertain communities.
The programming included a 20-episode radio programme on COVID-19 called Together – We can beat it, which ran from August to December 2020; two interrelated programmes on comprehensive sexuality education in partnership with UNFPA and UNESCO which ran between November 2020 and January 2021; and a programme on climate change, Our Changing Climate – Our Time to Act!, developed in collaboration with UNITAR and broadcast in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe from late November 2020 until February 2021.
The four radio programmes included opportunities for listener phone-ins as well as competitions.
According to an evaluation of the radio programmes conducted in February 2021, they were well received and valued across all four countries.
The COVID-19 radio programme provided a source of critical information which aimed to prevent the spread of the virus.
A Youth Talk Radio Programme prize winner said that a programme for youth, by youth, and about youth served to empower young people, while the majority of the listeners interviewed believed that the comprehensive sexuality education radio programmes played a crucial role in raising issues that young people are shy to talk about with family and friends.
A Malawian teacher said the climate change radio programme provided him with content to supplement gaps in the syllabus, thereby building learners’ knowledge. He added that the programme boosted his own interest in environmental management.
Through the evaluation, respondents commented that the variety of panellists who were able to share their expertise on issues of SRHR, COVID-19, human rights and HIV&AIDS, aided in promoting robust discussion.
It is clear from the listener responses provided by the radio hosts that the radio is considered to be the favourite source of information in all the pilot countries.
In fact, the FutureLife-Now! radio programming has proved that radio plays a vital role in restoring or building family relationships and improving levels of understanding of issues affecting young people. To illustrate this point, the radio host from Malawi, Davie Majawa, shared the story of a father and his son who did not enjoy a good relationship. “The son had difficulties opening up to the father although he did this quite easily with the mother. The father reported that the Family Talk radio programme has helped to strengthen his relationship with his son,” said Majawa.
More exciting and informative radio programmes are being planned for later in 2021.