Issue #: 
April 21, 2003


Radio Salankoloto is a radio station broadcasting out of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso which aims to provide information to and to improve the lives of listeners. The "Viim Kuunga" radio programme, aired by Radio Salankoloto, aimed to help combat HIV/AIDS in the community.

This Drum Beat is based on the Case Study written by Suzanne Fisher - click here for the Case Study. For more information, please contact Suzanne at


Much of the content on Burkinabé health-related radio shows is based on interviews with experts, which are often instructive, yet are often also dull. From the start the organisers of this project wanted to create something educational, entertaining and thought-provoking. Drama was chosen because the organisers thought these radio programmes would be able to show characters undergoing difficult personal choices related to behaviour change - similar to the choices facing audience members. For instance, using condoms requires a partner's cooperation and raises issues that are seldom discussed. A woman might be scared to ask her husband to wear a condom if she thinks this suggests that she does not trust her husband to be disease-free and faithful. How does a wife negotiate with her husband, or a girlfriend negotiate with a boyfriend to wear a condom when a woman's right to safe sex is not always recognised? The project aimed to focus on these and other related issues.


There are approximately 4 million people who live within Radio Salankoloto's broadcast zone. While they don't all listen to the radio station, a large percentage of listeners who are unable to access other forms of information - who are illiterate or have received only a basic education - do tune in. While the radio broadcasts in French in the mornings, it is the radio's local language (Mooré - the language of the Mossi people) afternoon and evening programmes that attract most listeners.

Radio Salankoloto acts as a "community telephone" by broadcasting community birth and death announcements and hosting phone-in talk shows, which give members of the community a chance to voice their opinion on various topics. The radio also has listener clubs in Ouagadougou and in many rural villages located outside of the city within the 90 to 100 km radius of its radio transmitter. The listener clubs were set up on the initiative of eager listeners who wanted to provide feedback on the radio station's content.


Each episode of "Viim Kuunga" was broadcast at least twice in the afternoon and evening at times suggested by Radio Salankoloto's listener clubs.

In Mooré, "Viim" means life, and "Kuunga" is a traditional drum that alerts people during emergencies. The title literally means: "Alert! Save your life!".

13 30-minute episodes were created. The series aimed to increase listeners' knowledge of the risks related to STDs and HIV/AIDS and to encourage the adoption of concrete actions or behaviour changes conducive to avoiding these risks.

3 prevention strategies were presented: the use of condoms, abstinence before marriage and faithfulness to sexual partners (for instance, faithfulness to one's multiple wives in the case of polygamous marriages).

The main aim was for radio listeners to know and understand ways to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV/AIDS. To measure impact, organisers asked radio listeners to cite 3 actions or changes in behaviour that they could practise in order to protect themselves from contracting HIV/AIDS after listening to the programmes.

In order to reach as many facets of the community as possible, characters were developed to represent all age groups. The central characters are adolescents and adults. The two narrators are elderly.


Approximately 40 members living in or around Ouagadougou were selected by the President of the listener club to take part in the development and evaluation of Viim Kuunga. The listener club was split into 4 focus groups divided by age and sex (young men, older men etc.) in order to facilitate a more frank and open discussion of issues that are rarely discussed openly in front of the opposite sex.

The listener club was involved at 2 stages in the process: during pre-production and in order to pre-test the first 3 radio programmes. A third meeting was held with the club to judge the impact of the radio drama. All 3 meetings were conducted in Mooré by trained animators.


Individual interviews were conducted to discuss the key project indicators because the organisers felt that they were more accurate than group discussions. Two thirds of the participants could cite 3 actions (fidelity, abstinence and condom usage) as 3 ways to protect themselves from contracting HIV/AIDS.

Most individuals in all 4 focus groups cited the use of condoms. On average, 69% of the listener club members cited faithfulness to a sexual partner. The greatest difference in responses by gender were related to the topic of abstinence. Both young women (80%) and older women (70%) cited abstinence as a means of avoiding contracting HIV/AIDS while young men (28%) and older men (37%) often did not. 2 other strategies commonly cited were having an HIV test done or avoiding bloody objects or needles.

Radio club members also said that their knowledge of negotiation skills had improved because of the radio drama. By hearing different scenes in which characters negotiated condom use, they had developed ideas of their own for negotiating with their sexual partners.

Most radio dramas produced through NGO funding in Burkina Faso are in French. Organisers of Viim Kuunga felt that French speakers are most likely to have received an education and to already know about the risks of HIV/AIDS. Initially there was some resistance to producing the programme in Mooré because it limits the utility of the programme to Mooréphone parts of the country, and possibly because there were concerns about producing a programme that targets one ethnic group to the exclusion of others. However, organisers feel that producing a Mooréphone programme with a local language radio station was crucial to the success of the project. There are plans to translate the radio drama into other local languages, such as Jula and Fufuldé.


Radio Salankoloto

Radio Slankoloto implemented the radio programme and did pre- and post-production evaluations through their radio listener clubs.

This small radio station started broadcasting in 1996. The term "Salankoloto" comes from the Mooré language and loosely means an imaginary friend or partner who entertains, educates and offers advice. It is the only community radio station in the capital. The station involves the local community in the evaluation and content planning of the radio programmes through 12 listener clubs.

Contact [in French]: Roger Nikiema, Director of Radio Salankoloto, ASSOCIATION GALIAN, 01 BP 1095, Ougadougou 01, Burkina Faso. Tel: 00226 31 64 93.


Promaco financed the project and provided trained group facilitators who conducted all the discussions with the members of the radio listener club.

Promaco's goal is to reduce HIV transmission in Burkina Faso by facilitating individual protection. Through interpersonal communication, small groups, and mass media, Promaco aims to help Burkinabè understand and access ways to protect themselves. Promaco is a partnership of the German development bank (KfW), the Government of Burkina Faso, and Population Services International.

Contact [in French]: Projet de Marketing Social de Condom, 03 BP 7109 Ouagadougou 03, Burkina Faso. Tel: (0033) 36 40 04/ 36 57 22.

Atelier-Théâtre Burkinabè

Atelier-Théâtre Burkinabè (ATB) developed the script, using the storyline as a loose guideline.

Established in 1978, ATB is a group of actors and actresses who use theatre to educate, sensitise, and entertain citizens of Burkina Faso. ATB also works to initiate and sustain a movement of those seeking to develop theatre as a strategy for development - in Burkina Faso, throughout Africa, and worldwide. ATB uses radio and television as part of its networking efforts.

Click here for more information.

Contact [in French]: Prosper Kompaore, Maitre Assistant a l’Universite de Ouagadougou, Directeur de l’Atelier Theatre Burkinabe, 01 bp 2121 Ouagadougou 01, Burkina Faso. Tel: (226) 34 03 09. Fax: (226) 34 36 66.


Many thanks to Suzanne Fisher for her collaboration on this issue.


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