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Music and Cartoons to Fight Malaria and HIV

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In September 2007, a mobile recording studio was set up in Bo, Sierra Leone, initiated by Christian Aid, to help the town’s musicians and HIV peer educators make an album of anti-HIV songs called "HIV e dae-o" (HIV is Real). Alongside the recording, a computer animation expert taught local young people techniques to create animated music videos for the songs. The music and animations were designed to be used by trained Sierra Leonean peer educators to spread public health messages to the region's youth, teaching them about HIV and how to protect themselves and helping remove stigma around HIV and AIDS. Since the release of the animated videos and music in December 2008, additional music recordings have taken place in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi. These form part of a wider series of animations being produced by Christian Aid that will be used to deliver health messages in countries across Africa that are struggling with poverty-related diseases. Other projects will: encourage people to break down HIV-related stigma and prejudice; teach them about HIV and malaria prevention; and denounce sexual and domestic violence.

Communication Strategies: 

According to the organisers, there is a lot of evidence to show that young people in Sierra Leone will listen to messages from other young people - but that messages created by adults for young people are often ignored. They feel that if more appropriate materials were available - such as, for instance, culturally sensitive songs and music videos about HIV, with non-stigmatising lyrics - then this would allow a greater impact on target audiences. In addition, many young people in Sierra Leone missed out on years of education because of the civil war and cannot read or write.

Christian Aid's music and animation projects began in 2007 with the production of an album of popular music and two animations to bring HIV messages to youth audiences through popular culture. Peer educators from Christian Aid’s partner the
Methodist Resource Youth Centre (MYRC) sang the music. Supported by Christian Aid, a three-person team travelled to Sierra Leone to record the music and conduct animation workshops with local peer educators. The resulting music can be listened to on My Space and the animation viewed on the HIV Sierra Leone website.

The project was designed to empower youth and to allow for income-generating activities in the future. Some of the relevant software was left behind in Sierra Leone after the recording and video work was completed, and recording techniques were taught that can be duplicated using equipment already in place. This plan was used to make the benefits of the project as sustainable as possible.

Music was subsequently recorded in Malawi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and an animated film was created about malaria for use in the DRC. The DRC initiative uses animation and music to inform people about how, by following a few simple steps, they can protect themselves and their families from malaria. The animation was disseminated through Christian Aid’s community-based partner networks in the DRC. According to Christian Aid, these projects reflect a determination to find new and engaging ways to capture audiences - particularly youth - in countries affected by preventable and life-threatening diseases such as HIV and malaria. Click here to view the malaria animation called "Moustique".

Development Issues: 

HIV/AIDS, Malaria

Key Points: 

The Sierra Leone project was nominated for the 2009 One World Media Special Award, which is granted for "an outstanding media project or organisation working on the ground in the developing world, which has made a real impact on the lives of those living and working near it."

The adult literacy rate is 29.6%; youth literacy is 38.2%. In this environment, music and video are considered effective ways of delivering important information. In this environment, music and video are considered effective ways of delivering important information.

Partner Text: 

Christian Aid, KPMG, Focusrite Audio

Contact Information: 
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