SHELBURNE, VT., June 16, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A radio soap opera aimed at improving human health and enhancing human rights will now be broadcast to more than 18 million additional Nigerians. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has partnered with Population Media Center (PMC) to increase the broadcast area for a radio soap opera designed to increase knowledge around family planning, HIV/AIDS, adolescent reproductive health, women's education, and gender-based violence. Tafigawalo ("Working Toward Change") is a nine-month radio serial drama that began airing in southern Nigeria in November of 2013. The new broadcast begins across seven different radio stations this June.
"UNFPA is looking for partners like PMC," says Adeola Olunloyo, UNFPA's National Programme Officer in Nigeria for behavior change communications and advocacy, "to reach large numbers of people, particularly women and girls, and empower them to reach their full potential. They can be what they want to be. They can aspire to have a bigger life – a better life."
Tafigawalo has been airing twice per week in the Pidgin language in three southern Nigerian states. UNFPA's funding will expand the broadcast to several more southeastern Nigerian states, reaching the states of Abia, Benue, Cross River, Ebonyi, the Federal Capital Territory, Imo, and rebroadcasting in Lagos.
"I'm excited about this because it not only shows UNFPA's confidence in our program and our ability to achieve results, but it greatly expands the reach of Tafigawalo, and that means we'll be able to positively impact more people's lives," says Kriss Barker, PMC's Vice President of International Programs.
The rebroadcast area includes 18 million additional people, not including the potential to reach more people in Lagos. This broadcast will more than double the population in the original broadcast area.
"PMC has produced three other radio dramas in Nigeria with promising results," says Bill Ryerson, PMC's President. "Sixty-seven percent of reproductive health clients in Ruwan Dare's broadcast area named that PMC program as their motivation to seek health services in 2009. We're pleased to have that kind of impact and are excited to partner with UNFPA to continue building on the good work being done in Nigeria."
UNFPA agrees, which is why they decided that Tafigawalo would be a powerful way to address cross-cutting issues like family planning, girls education, and gender-based violence.
"This is a good platform to address issues UNFPA is passionate about," says Olunloyo. "A drama of that duration allows many issues to be addressed. The characters in the drama allow people to see themselves and evolve with the characters from someone without information or with misinformation to someone who is better informed about life saving issues."
Tafigawalo is aimed at some of Nigeria's most pressing health and human rights concerns, such as family planning. Only 14.1 percent of people in Nigeria say they use any form of contraception, and UNFPA estimates that anywhere from 100,000 to 1 million women suffer from obstetric fistula. Tafigawalo also stresses the importance of girls' education, which is important when only 43 percent of Nigerian women obtain a secondary education. And Tafigawalo also addresses gender-based violence, an issue that is prevalent in Nigerian communities.
"The current crisis of kidnapped school girls in northern Nigeria is symptomatic of the low status of women and girls in all of Nigeria," says Ephraim Okon, PMC's Nigeria Country Representative when discussing the importance of Tafigawalo.
It is hoped that enhancing the health and rights of women and girls will not only improve people's lives today, but it will also benefit Nigeria's overall infrastructure. Nigeria is the seventh most populous country in the world with over 170 million people and an annual population growth rate of 3.18 percent. This means that Nigeria's infrastructure needs to be prepared to support a population that's expected to be more than 207 million by 2020, a short six years away.
"The writing and production of Tafigawalo is of extremely high quality, and this program deserves to be aired across the southern part of Nigeria," said Barker as she talked about PMC's vast experience in creating long-running radio serial dramas, like Tafigawalo, that engage audiences and effect change. "It has the power to change lives, and UNFPA's funding will result in more lives changed."
The rebroadcast of Tafigawalo will run until spring of 2015. PMC will be conducting research during the broadcast and at its conclusion to assess impact.
"UNFPA is really looking forward to seeing the results and hopes that many lives are transformed through this partnership with PMC," says Olunloyo. "Due to societal, cultural, and religious barriers, many families don't get to live fulfilling lives. If we can separate misconceptions from facts and help people make informed decisions about their health, particularly reproductive health, we can empower families to build a better society."
ABOUT POPULATION MEDIA CENTER (PMC):
Population Media Center (PMC) is a nonprofit, international nongovernmental organization, which strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change. Founded in 1998, PMC has over 15 years of field experience using the Sabido methodology of behavior change communications, impacting more than 50 countries around the world. www.populationmedia.org
ABOUT UNITED NATIONS POPULATION FUND (UNFPA):
UNFPA is the lead United Nations agency that expands the possibilities for women and young people to lead healthy sexual and reproductive lives. We deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled. UNFPA accelerates progress towards universal access to sexual and reproductive health, including voluntary family planning and safe motherhood. We also advance the rights and opportunities of young people. www.unfpa.org
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Source: Population Media Center