Africa – includes information on The Union of National Radio and Television Organizations of Africa promoting family planning broadcasts, and on video expanding training & teaching possibilities

Africa – includes information on The Union of National Radio and Television Organizations of Africa promoting family planning broadcasts, and on video expanding training & teaching possibilities – Promoting Family Planning with TV, Video, and Film

Cathleen A. Church

Africa In Africa more and more people are seeing television, although there are still relatively few receivers–about 17.2 million, or one for every 29 people (22). Televisions are affordable to middle-class, urban dwellers, and it is common to find homes with television but no telephone (197). There are about 300 broadcasting stations in Africa (175). Television transmissions cover from 20 to 80% of national territories (131).

Most African countries cannot afford to produce their own shows. Nigeria and Cameroon are among the few that have developed their own production capacity (206). Programs from the US and Western Europe are imported at low cost, increasingly via satellite. Francophone Africa, for example, has been receiving satellite programs from the International French Channel (TV5 Europe) since May 1989. MTV Europe, the music video entertainment channel, began broadcasting five hours a day on the Kenya Television Network in June 1990 (89).

The growth of VCRs and videotapes in Africa presents serious competition both to national TV broadcasts and to local cinemas. The number of VCRs, at about 1.2 million, is still Association Malienne pour la Protection et la Promotion de la Famille, the IPPF affiliate, surveyed over 500 clients in family planning clinics. About 25% remembered the kobeta. The project was a joint effort of several organizations including Radiodiffusion Television du Mali (RTM), the Institut National des ARts, US AID, and JHU/PCS. Because RTM donated broadcast time and use of its production equipment, the project cost only $3,000 (US) (144).


Translating statistics on the impact of rapid population growth into easily understood language and images is a challenge. A Future for Our Children, a 30-minute video produced in Liberia, uses visual examples from everyday life to demonstrate the effects of too many people on already overburdened human services. Scenes show unemployed young people loitering in the streets, a teacher trying to cope with a class too large for her classroom, and people living in cramped housing.

A Future for Our Children was designed to promote awareness among both policy-makers and the public about population growth and to tell them about family planning services. It is based on the RAPID II computer projection of the effects of population growth on essential services, developed by the Resources for the Awareness of Population Impact on Development (RAPID) project of The Futures Group. The videotape was broadcast on prime-time television five times in late 1985 to an estimated audience of over one million. The Family Planning Association of Liberia (FPAL) transferred the video to film and used mobile vans to show it to rural audiences as part of its family planning mobilization activities a few months later (119).

The video was evaluated in several ways. After the first two broadcasts on national television, FPAL conducted on-the-street interviews with people who had seen it. This informal evaluation found that most people liked the video and that it brought population issues and the need for family planning to their attention (119). A more formal evaluation, although without before-and-after comparisons, found that the video was well received by both the general audience and by decision makers and opinion leaders and may have increased awareness of and intentions to use family planning (200).

While most viewers enjoyed the video, not all understood its messages. About half remembered one message from the video. Viewers with lower levels of education had more problems understanding the messages. One possible reason for comprehension problems is the sophisticated level of English used in the video and the unfamiliar British accent of one of the narrators (200). The video was produced by Medex, Inc., a local media production firm, with funding from US AID and technical assistance from JHU/PCS.


Rita and Richard are high school students. They are in love and looking to the future. Suddenly, Rita’s world falls apart: she discovers that she is pregnant. Consequences, a film produced in Harare, is their story. As with many adolescents’ pregnancies, it is not a happy one.

The messages of the film were developed through focus-group discussions with adolescents and parents across Africa (194). Several African writers developed a script that is entertaining and at the same time delivers a powerful message. Consequences is the first dramatic film made in Zimbabwe entirely with a local cast and crew. It was produced by John Riber of DSR in Harare with funding from the Pathfinder Fund and IPPF. The total cost for the 3-year project was approximately $350,000 (US) (193).

Pre-testing of the film with 300 adolescents, adults, and family planning providers in Kenya, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe found that 99% enjoyed the film, and 98% said that they would recommend it to friends (46). A pre-test audience in Ghana was so enthusiastic that htey insisted the film be shown to an additional 2,000 villagers (101). Over 900 copies have been distributed throughout Africa, and it has been broadcast and rebroadcast on television in a number of countries. Pirated copies can be found in video clubs, further indicating that a film with a social message can be popular (192).

Versions of Consequences have been produced in English, French, Portuguese, Swahili, and a number of local dialects. It is available to qualified organizations through DSR (see box, p. 28).

Other TV, Video, and Film

Many other family planning projects using TV, video, or film are completed or underway in Africa. Among them:

* Approximately 100 episodes of Tushariane, a Kenyan soap opera, were aired between 1987 and 1989. Tushauriane dealt primarily with family planning but also with conflicts over land, intertribal marriages, and the differences between urban and rural cultures. The soap opera closely followed Miguel Sabido’s approach. It was described at the time as the “most popular program on Kenyan TV” (7). The program was eventually cancelled, however, due to lack of funds and loss of political support (7, 102, 142, 181).

* La Mesaventure (The Misadventure) is the story of Gisele, a young student in Brazzaville, who discovers that she is pregnant and the difficulties that she has telling her parents and friends. She advises her friends not to make the same mistake. The 1989 video was made in the Congo by IPPF. It will be distributed by the Union of National Radio and Television Organizations of Africa (URTNA) to broadcasters throughout francophone Africa (68, 83).

* In May 1990 URTNA conducted a workshop for television broadcasters in Dakar. One result of this workshop was Afrique: Sante (Africa: Health), a talk show featuring African broadcasters appealing to donors for support of family planning radio and TV programming. The show also featured eight minutes of a family planning drama staged at the workshop. Afrique: Sante was broadcast in Senegal in June 1990. Funds for the workshop came from US AID with technical assistance from JHU/PCS (86).

* The Last Pregnancy is a traditional Ghanaian drama that tells the story of two classmates 20 years after their graduation. One man is very successful and has two children, while the other is poor, has many children, and wants more even though his wife is weak and sick. One of the most popular drama troupes in Ghana performed the drama. It was videotaped for TV broadcast, distribution on videocassette, and transfer to 16 mm film for showing to rural audiences from Ministry of Health viewing vans. One unexpected off-shoot of The Last Pregnancy was the popularity of its theme song, “Awo Dodo.” Audiences at a pre-test began singing the song as they were leaving the showing. The song was then further pre-tested and chosen for use in a year-long mass-media campaign to promote family planning in three regions of Ghana. The drama was produced by the Ministry of Health–Health Education Division and Lintas Ghana Ltd., an advertising agency, in early 1990 (100).

* The Ghanian Ministry of Health–Health Education Division and the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation are currently producing Our Concern, a 45-minute television drama of a secondary school debating contest on the subject “Large families: Are they a thing of the past?” The drama alternates scenes of the debate with flashbacks to situations illustrating the debating points. By the end of the film the students conclude that smaller families are preferable in modern-day Ghana. The film is scheduled for completion and distribution in mid-1990 (101). It was developed in part as a result of a video training workshop cosponsored by URTNA and JHU/PCS.

* Dangerous Numbers is a docu-drama intended to dramatize the effects of overpopulation in Ghana as seen through the eyes of two coworkers–one who plans his family and one who does not. It is being produced by the Ministry of Health–Health Education Division and the National Film and Television Institute and is scheduled for TV broadcast in late 1990 (101).

* The Ministries of Health and Information of Oyo State, Nigeria, are producing a 30-minute dramatic video for rural audiences. It will emphasize family planning, ORT, and childhood immunization. The video will be transferred to 16 mm film and shown by mobile cinema vans in Oyo State as well as in four other Yoruba-speaking states starting in late 1990 (43, 115).

COPYRIGHT 1989 Department of Health

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