The impact of using community radio in Côte d’Ivoire to promote good parenting practices: Results and lessons learned
Nearly 250 million children worldwide are not reaching their full developmental potential. Yet studies show that intervening in the first three years of life is the most effective and efficient way to help these children reach their optimal development.
Côte d’Ivoire is among the developing countries with the highest level of inadequate care for children aged two to four. Therefore, as part of their commitment to promote quality education and early childhood development in cocoa communities and to support the Government of Côte d’Ivoire’s strategic objectives, the Jacobs and Bernard van Leer Foundations commissioned an innovative media campaign through its TRECC program.
With the technical support of DMI (Development Media International), the goal was to deploy a radio campaign to promote good parenting practices and raise awareness about the importance of exclusive breastfeeding of babies up to the age of six months.
- Twelve one-minute messages were produced in French and in seven dominant local languages in the cocoa-growing regions (Baoulé, Bété, Malinké, Mooré, Yacouba, Guéré and Gouro) with a target population of more than 5 million men and women who could bear children.
- The messages were broadcasted on 27 community radio stations 10 times a day, 7 days a week for 6 months.
At the end of the campaign, a qualitative evaluation consisting of focus group interviews to understand attitudes and behaviors was conducted by DMI in collaboration with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA). It revealed that:
- The messages delivered during the campaign helped raise awareness of exclusive breastfeeding and improve the breastfeeding-friendly environment.
- The level of involvement of men in childcare in the home increased, as they took the initiative to purchase the foods mentioned in the messages to diversify children’s diets.
- In addition to radio, some target populations were exposed to the messages through health workers during prenatal or postnatal consultations, and community leaders through public announcements via megaphones.
Three key lessons learned
- Communication through multiple channels can maximize the impact of messages: other mass dissemination channels, such as television, NTICs, and local communication channels, in this case public megaphones, can extend the reach of messages.
- The use of faith-based radio stations could improve coverage in rural/suburban areas.
- A prolonged campaign is needed to influence socio-cultural beliefs (e.g., not giving water to a child under six months old is a sin; a child under two years old can become a thief if given eggs to eat).
Listen to some of the messages broadcasted in the communities: