Tikambe! (Let’s Talk!) is a joint BBC Media Action and Restless Development project in Zambia that uses an integrated communication approach to get young people openly talking about sex, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and how to prevent HIV and AIDS. Launched in 2014, the project combines a weekly radio show, a television talk show, policy engagement events, outreach activities, and peer-led education and training in life skills. The programme seeks to help young people look after their sexual health and improve their knowledge of their reproductive rights, and also empower youth to claim their rights to access youth friendly sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and be able to effectively interrogate and engage local and national authorities on key sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) issues.

Communication Strategies: 

The project consists of the following activities:

Tikambe Natulande (Tikambe and Natulande means "Let's Talk" in Nyanja and Bemba languages, respectively) is a weekly radio phone-in and debate show that is broadcast by three community stations, Radio Mkushi and KNC Radio in Central Province and Radio Kasama in Northern Province, as well as by the state broadcaster Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC). In 2015, 230 studio-based programmes were broadcast across the four stations.

BBC Media Action conducted training and mentoring activities with radio station staff focusing on writing, recording, editing, and interviewing skills, as well as on how to cover SRH issues. The content of the programmes is informed by extensive research into the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of young people about sex and their sexual health. Expert health advice used in the programme is provided by government health departments, the Society for Family Health, and Marie Stopes. The show is made for young Zambians by young Zambians. The presenters and producers are all aged between 16 and 22, and the shows are a mix of music, entertainment, and information on SRHR.

In addition to radio, in March 2016, a ten-episode television series was launched on the national broadcaster, ZNBC. Each episode features a well-known Zambian personality discussing key issues relevant to young people with experts, and includes real-life insights and testimonies from members of the community who have experienced the issues first hand. Broadcast on prime time Friday evening, topics include teenage pregnancy, relationships, alcohol abuse, accessing healthcare, and sexual abuse.

In addition to radio and television, the three-year project includes a large social media component using Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, generating dialogue and providing further platforms for audiences to discuss the issues that matter to them.

To complement the mass and social media components, Youth Dialogue Days are organised to provide opportunities for young people to engage in person with government ministers, health care providers, parents, and teachers about their SRHR. Radio programmes are broadcast live from these youth events held at schools, youth clubs, and in communities.

Restless Development is running the policy engagement events, outreach activities, and peer-led education and training, working across three goals: SRHR, civic participation, and livelihoods and employment. The peer-led education sessions in 25 communities across Lusaka and the Central and Northern provinces are organised and run by volunteers in partnership with local schools. The policy engagement events involve debate with decision-makers around key issues that affect young people like youth friendly service provision in communities. Policies that affect youth are identified and reviewed and key issues identified that require change. The overall aim is to increase the number of institutions formally consulting with young people in their strategies, plans, and budgets. These activities are led by a group of trained young Advocates4Action (A4A). The A4As mainly work at building the capacity of young people so they can have the skills to hold local and central government to account for improved youth friendly health service delivery.

Development Issues: 

Youth, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, HIV

Key Points: 

HIV prevalence is at 14%, making Zambia one of the worst affected countries in the world. Young people are significantly and disproportionately affected by HIV, and teen pregnancies are high. Zambia remains a relatively traditional society where discussing sex, even safe sex, is still taboo.

Partner Text: 

BBC Media Action, Restless Development, Radio Mkushi,  KNC Radio, Radio Kasama, and Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC).  Funded by Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency (SIDA)

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