Pesinet Child Mortality Pilot Programme

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Founded in September 2007, Pesinet is a non-profit organisation that has introduced a pilot project in Mali to reduce child mortality with the help of house-to-house visits and mobile phones. With the help of a micro-insurance scheme, healthcare agents perform weekly checkups on children and send the results to a doctor for evaluation through a Java application.

Communication Strategies: 

According to Persinet, there are three main barriers to medical treatment for children in Mali. The first is a geographic barrier, particularly in rural areas. The second is family finances, and the third is what organisers call an "attitude barrier" - many people wait until illnesses are severe before visiting a doctor. The objective behind Pesinet's system is to overcome all three barriers. First, healthcare agents directly visit homes of children enrolled in the programme so that families don't have to go to a healthcare centre. Second, families pay a nominal monthly fee to enrol, which acts as micro-insurance covering the healthcare agents' visits, doctor's visits, and half the price of medication (if a child needs it). Finally, agents make home visits weekly, so potential illnesses can be detected early.

The healthcare agents carry mobile phones on their visit. They look for five key symptoms (fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, coughs, and weight loss), record the data on a Java mobile application, then send the data to a doctor at the local health care centre. Organisers say the system is designed to be simple and easy to use. Once the doctor receives the agents' data, he or she can provide immediate feedback and recommendations. The mobile technology allows for a model where a greater number of children can be reached with just one doctor.

Click here to view a short flash animation which explains the key steps of the Pesinet service of early detection and treatment of children's illnesses.

Development Issues: 

Child Mortality, New Technologies

Key Points: 

Organisers say the programme has faced challenges in its pilot phase, primarily in creating trust among potential subscribers in a no-prevention culture, and in creating a self-sustaining business plan. It takes a long time to build trust with families and convince them that micro-insurance is a worthwhile investment. Although the price of the programme is kept low in order to remain affordable for families, this means that the break-even point can only be reached with a great volume of children enrolled. Organisers estimate the programme will be able to self-support once it reaches 1,500 children (with six healthcare agents) or 2,000 children (with ten healthcare agents).

In addition, the programme only covers the top three illnesses that result in child mortality (respiratory illnesses, diarrhoeal diseases, and malaria); and treatment for chronic diseases is not included in the half-priced medication coverage. However, according to a study performed by the Malian Ministry of health, 96% of the mothers enrolled in the programme reported being satisfied with the service, and 99% said they would recommend Pesinet to friends and family.

Partner Text: 


Source: website on January 4 2011.

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Voices from the Ground

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From Panos London, this blog follows the lives of five people working and living in developing countries, tracking their experiences in relation to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Communication Strategies: 

Voices from the Ground, December 1 2010 is an online platform for recording the challenges, frustrations, and successes of people affected first-hand by the impacts of the MDGs. Their experiences are recorded by Panos London local journalists in those countries who tell those experiences as first person. The bloggers' stories are told as they happen and feature people from around the world:

  • Northeast India: Takhelchangbam Ambravati (known as Ambra) is a grassroots volunteer with a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) near Imphal, the capital of the northeastern state of Manipur. She visits local women to collect information about human rights violations, domestic violence, and trafficking.
  • Pakistan: Zubaida Noor is working with women in a small village in Khyber Putkunkwa, previously known as North-West Frontier Province, who lost their homes in the recent floods. Her NGO, the Noor Foundation, focuses on women's education, health, and emancipation.
  • Jamaica: Dr Tracy Evans-Gilbert is head of the paediatric HIV programme at the Cornwall Regional Hospital, Montego Bay's main public hospital. Part of her job is to trace HIV-infected children who are not receiving treatment and babies with unknown status born to HIV-infected women.
  • Mali: As a housewife in the village of Tamala in the south of Mali, Sali Samaké has to fetch water every day to do the cooking and washing for her family. She is also one of thousands of small farmers trained by the Malian government to monitor rainfall.
  • Brazil: Dagmar Rivieri Garroux, known as Tia Dag (Auntie Dag), runs Casa do Zezinho, a school in one of south Sao Paulo's favelas. By offering social, cultural, and artistic activities for children, Tia Dag and the teachers aim to prevent them from joining Sao Paulo's criminal gangs.
Development Issues: 

Children, Economic Development, Education, Gender Equity, Maternal Health, HIV/AIDS, Health, Environment.


Email from Tia Jeewa to The Communication Initiative on October 15 2010; and Voices from the Ground blog, December 1 2010. Image credit: Sanjit Das / Panos Pictures

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Understanding Community-Based Information Systems in the Millennium Villages

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Publication Date
December 1, 2009

This website from newmediadev2009 was a project of a 2009 research seminar developed and taught by Professor Anne Nelson at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) in New York, the United States (US).


Email from Anne Nelson to The Communication Initiative on January 11 2010.

The View from Above

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Pierre Sibiry Traoré
Publication Date
February 1, 2010

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)

From the "Farm Services" Issue 53 of ICT Update, this article discusses how very high resolution imagery (VHRI) made by sensors on satellites gives West African farmers data on soil fertility and land


ICT Update Issue 53, February 2010. Source image: ICRISAT

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Jigi ma Tignè (Hope Is Allowed) Radio Drama

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Launched in April 2009, Jigi ma Tignè is a 74-episode serial radio drama produced and broadcast for Malian audiences by Population Media Centre (PMC).

Communication Strategies: 

The drama aired on the national broadcaster on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and was additionally broadcast on 50 community radio stations across the country. (Five sample episodes may be listened to on the PMC website.)

One of the storylines focuses on family planning and features Guedjouma, a 40-year old peasant farmer who has 2 wives. He has 4 children with his first wife and 3 children with his second wife and has no interest in using family planning. In the story, his second wife is pregnant with her fourth child and is suffering to get through the pregnancy. She goes into labour and experiences acute haemorrhaging; both she and the baby die. Guedjouma is left penniless from the exorbitant medical expenses he has spent in trying to save his wife and child. Another storyline focusing on HIV and AIDS features Paul, an 18-year-old who works part-time for his idol, Mr. Kandé, a rich, promiscuous businessman. After Paul allows himself to be seduced by an older woman, he begins to develop symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection (STI), which he fears might actually be a sign that he has HIV.

To help create a culture of support and acceptance for those living with disabilities, another storyline features Dado, a 30-year old young woman who is not yet married and who was forced to drop out of school early because of her disability. At a low moment in her life, Dado meets Niagalé, who tells her about an organisation (Trickle Up) that can help Dado to develop a small business to help her earn some money to support herself and her baby. Dado is initially discriminated against but, through perseverance and community support, she is able to open her own boutique. Niagalé also introduces Dado to a nice barman, who falls in love with Dado and accepts her child as his own. PMC worked closely with Trickle Up, a United States-based organisation working with disabled people in northern Mali, and the Malian Federation of Associations working with Handicapped Persons (FEMAPH). To further understand the issues, PMC also conducted several ethnographic studies of Trickle Up beneficiaries, resulting in Dado's storyline (which evolved out of a real-life story about a female beneficiary of Trickle Up's micro-loan programme).

Development Issues: 

Disability, Reproductive Health, HIV/AIDS

Key Points: 

According to PMC, Jigi ma Tignè is a mainstay in the lives of millions of Malians, and the disability storyline has helped to uplift those living with disabilities and reduce stigma associated with having a disability.

Jigi ma Tignè is a follow-up to PMC's first radio serial drama in Mali, Cesiri Tono ("Fruits of Perseverance"). Cesiri Tono addressed issues of child slavery and the link between this problem and poverty-inducing factors such as unwanted pregnancy and HIV/AIDS. The radio serial drama went on the air in November 2004 and was completed in October 2005. The programme was broadcast by 169 community radio stations in Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, and Burkina Faso. The Ashoka Foundation awarded PMC the Changemakers Innovation Award in their global competition for the most creative programmes designed to prevent human trafficking.

Partner Text: 

Population Media Centre (PMC), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Trickle Up, and the Malian Federation of Association working with Handicapped Persons (FEMAPH).


Population Media Centre newsletter, Fall 2009 [PDF]; PMC website on December 15 2009 and August 27 2010; and email from Emily Frazier to The Communication Initiative on October 18 2010.

Youth Empowerment through Arts and Media (YETAM)

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Initiated in 2008, the Youth Empowerment Through Arts and Media (YETAM) project is an initiative by Nokia, Plan International, and local partners which seeks to give youth the skills and tools to communicate at local, national, and global level about issues impacting on their lives. Through arts, traditional media, and new media tools, youth engage in the community development process and beyond.

Communication Strategies: 

Using mapping, participatory video, visual arts, and performing arts as a means of investigation and expression, youth, aged 12-18, work in small teams to identify resources and challenges in their communities, understand more about causes and effects of key issues impacting on youth, and learn about different viewpoints held by community members and community leaders around those issues. They then produce arts and media about the issues and develop an action plan to raise awareness and community support to begin resolving the issues. By developing youths’ communication and leadership skills, coupled with technology education and practice with information and communication technologies (ICTs), YETAM seeks to open new possibilities for youth so that they are more able to engage using 21st century skills. The importance of ownership and commitment to local development is emphasised, and the methodology is designed to form capable and positive community leadership for the future.

The arts and media are also used as a starting point to raise issues and youth viewpoints with district and national leaders and the public, and to advocate for change. At the same time, the youths’ materials are posted on the web so that the public can learn more about issues and get involved. Rather than hearing about youths' viewpoints via foreign and/or adult journalists, the YETAM project allows youth to claim their own place and directly debate and discuss the issues they care about. Curricula based on the youth’s key issues and video/arts materials are developed and used to engage additional groups in the 6 African focus countries, and an on-line curriculum for the "Global North" allows youth not living in Africa to better understand the issues and learn how to get involved. The web allows cross-country and global interaction among youth, building confidence and motivating them to continue moving forward.

In each country, the YETAM programme involves youth, teachers, local media, and arts organisations in a 1-week training of trainers, followed by a 2-week training programme with secondary school youth. A local follow-up plan is created by the youth, teachers, and local partners for organisation and continued advocacy by the youth, refresher training, and additional arts and media work around the identified issues.

Some 350 youth (according to the 2008 annual report) participated in direct skills training workshops on arts and media, including new media tools, such as mobile phone technology and applications, internet, search engines, social media, 'Flip' cameras, mobile internet, and mobile video production and editing.

According to YETAM, collectively the youth have produced around 100 short videos, 100 art works, several theatre pieces, hundreds of photographs about their lives, newspapers, and community murals on themes pertinent to them. Sixty staff, teachers, and partner organisations have been trained on child rights, child participatory facilitation methodologies, arts and media as tools for development and advocacy, and social media/new technology. About 1500 community members in 25 communities have attended events and discussions related to these materials.

Click here to view these materials on YouTube. (To turn on the captions option to see subtitles, click on the triangle at the bottom right corner of the video player. A red ‘cc’ button will appear. Click on the small triangle to the left to select language options). Some of the materials are also available on the Plan Virtual Villages website. The current redesign of the YETAM website will additionally provide a space for school-school communication and joint projects and learning across Africa and between African countries and the "Global North".

Development Issues: 

Youth, Gender, Education, Rights

Key Points: 

According to YETAM, children and youth in Africa, in general, are not expected to speak up or speak out in their families or communities; nor do they have an equal seat at the table in national and global dialogue about issues that impact them. In order to be effective in local, national, and global dialogue, children and youth need to have access to skills and tools to develop analytical abilities and leadership behaviours, and to be effective communicators. They also need access to the places where these discussions are taking place. YETEM therefore seeks to address these issues at a local and global level.

Partner Text: 

Nokia, Plan International

See video

Email from Stefanie Conrad on August 20 2009 and Plan and Nokia Annual Report 2008 [PDF] on November 14 2009.

Track the West Africa Polio Campaign

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In early 2009, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) created an initiative to enable tracking of the West Africa polio campaign via Google maps. This ongoing communication initiative is designed to raise awareness about polio by sharing updated information through information and communication technology (ICT).

Communication Strategies: 

Visitors to the West and Central Africa Regional Office website can track the progress of the February 2009 8-country synchronised polio campaign. The technology of "Google maps" provides various windows on the polio outbreak response, which sought to reach 53 million children under the age of 5 in 8 West African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, and Togo, in coordination with Nigeria). Click here to view the map with either English or French content.


The map includes details such as polio-related facts and figures about each country, 2008 imported polio cases, and 2009 polio case count. Also, one may locate media reports about polio and the campaign for each country; for example, by clicking on an icon that looks like a transmission tower on the map in Nigeria, one accesses a list of articles published recently on strategies being implemented to fight false rumours about the vaccine, etc. Also, a green icon that looks like a microphone signifies "voices from the field". By clicking there, one may listen - for example - to an interview of Dr. Chitou, Chief of UNICEF Immunization Programme in Niger, discussing preparation efforts in that country.

Development Issues: 


Key Points: 

More than 162,000 trained immunisers will aim to reach every child with a polio vaccine (67,000 for Nigeria only). A total of 66 millions doses of vaccine are made available for each round of the campaign (33 million for Nigeria only). The campaign is scheduled in two rounds: the first from February 27 to March 2 and the second from March 27-30 2009.

Partner Text: 

This action is being organised as part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), a partnership spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and UNICEF.


Emails from Gaëlle Bausson to The Communication Initiative on March 2 2009 and March 3 2009. Image credit: UNICEF/2009/wcaro.

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Communicating with Radio: What Do We Know?

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Findings from a Review of Selected Rural Radio Effectiveness Evaluations

Publication Date
March 1, 2008

AFFRI website on July 15 2008.

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Kids Waves

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Communication Strategies: 

Each radio show revolves around a theme linked to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and is broadcast on 110 radio stations across the region each week. According to the organisers, a big part of the project is the involvement of children and youth in the production and broadcasting of the programmes.

Each week, producers travel from village to village to train 12 children to produce and host radio shows. The project is designed to allow children to express themselves, gain valuable skills, and entertain their peers and families, while at the same time raising awareness of their rights and responsibilities. The programme's jingles as well as songs promoting child rights are also produced by young musicians.

The 30-minute radio shows are recorded live - a strategy for giving parents, community leaders, and local authorities the opportunity to discuss issues that are relevant and interesting to children. The goal is to thereby foster a greater interest and awareness of the needs, desires, and rights of young people in their communities.

Since Kids Waves has been used, adapted, and localised in different ways in each country, a brief description of each country's version is outlined below:

  1. Radio Gune Yi (Senegal) - According to the organisers, RGY was the first radio programme in West Africa produced by, for, and with children. On air since March 2005, RGY provided the base from which Kids Waves was developed. A television version, Télé Gune Yi, is currently being developed with national broadcaster RTS (Senegalese Radio Television).
  2. Deviwo Be Radio (Togo) - DBR was launched in December 2004. It has one main production partner station, and broadcasting is assured by 13 other private partner stations, rural or community, giving the programme airplay across the country. According to the organisers, the programme has had a significant impact on Togo's children and adults.
  3. Bibir Radio (Burkina Faso) - Launched in April 2005, this programme was broadcast in French and four local languages through February 2009. Child hosts hailed from diverse communities and localities where Plan works. Professional journalists from the national broadcaster supervised production. A total of 127 radio shows were produced in 127 communities for broadcast on 12 partner stations across the country. The children who participated set up 15 Bibir radio clubs in order to continue child rights promotion. One of the radio partners, "Radio La Voix du Lac", now offers his studio space for one hour per week so that the local radio club can broadcast a live radio show called "Les enfants à l'antenne". The show, which also features a contest, is designed to allow children to discuss child rights and their needs and concerns.
  4. Eto Dodo Deviwo (Benin) - Launched in May 2005, the EDD programme broadcasts in French and four local languages. Recently, Plan Benin partnered with the Office of Radio and Television in Benin (ORTB) to produce TV programmes to complement the radio show. In addition, Plan supports Radio Tokpa in their programme, Dimanche des Enfants, which gives children a half-day radio show on the last Sunday of each month. They discuss child rights and their needs and problems with adults and peers. The children are trained by professional journalists in gathering news and writing content. In this way, these shows complement those made by EDD and ORTB.
  5. Demisenw Kun Kan (Mali) - Launched in July 2005, the project has also supported the formation of 45 children's clubs to promote child rights. The programme is produced by the Office for Radio and Television Mali, and broadcast on 13 partner radio stations across the country.
  6. La Voix de Finda et Alpha (Guinea) - Launched in March 2006, this programme is, according to the organisers, possibly one of the most popular shows for young people in Plan's operational zones. It broadcasts in five languages.
  7. Pikin Dem Voice (Sierra Leone) - This programme was launched in May 2006. Prior to the launch, a recording session of stories of "I am a child but I have my rights too!" was held in the production studios in the Moyamba District Children's Awareness Radio (MODCAR) in August 2005. A two-week jingle and music workshop was also conducted in Freetown in March and April 2006 with the support of WARO radio technicians.
  8. Yen Adwen (Ghana) - These radio shows, hosted by children themselves, discuss various subjects : parents' separation/divorce, drugs, protecting children's private lives, parents' responsibilities, hygiene, protection of the environment, teenage pregnancy, water and sanitation, etc.
  9. I am a child but I have my rights too! (Cameroon) - Launched February 27 2007 following the training of radio presenters in May 2006 in Yaoundé, this initiative involves 18 partnering radio stations assuring the broadcast and coordination of short sketches related to various child rights and played by children in French and English.
  10. I am a child but I have my rights too! (Liberia) - Dozens of children were chosen and trained by professional actors to play short sketches linked to different child rights. These sketches have been recorded on CD and broadcast on various partner radio stations.

The Plan regional child media website provides details on Kids Waves and its activities in each country as well as on all the radio shows produced.

In addition to the radio programmes, Plan has produced two guides to help children and trainers prepare radio shows in the Kids Waves framework. They have also produced an information guide on child rights that can be used for planning and preparing shows.

Click here to view the Children's Guide for Pikin Dem Voice in PDF format.
Click here to view the Trainer's Guide for Pikin Dem Voice in PDF format.
Click here to view the Information Guide for Pikin Dem Voice in PDF format.

Development Issues: 

Children, Rights.

Key Points: 

According to the organisers, as of 2009:

  • More than 25,000 young people have been directly involved since 2004;
  • 2,000 radio shows have been produced since 2004 and broadcast on 110 radio stations;
  • more than 500,000 people have attended the live shows; and
  • millions from the region have listened to the programmes.
Partner Text: 

110 media partners, with funding by Nokia.


Kids Waves website on July 16 2008; and emails from Stefanie Conrad and Allain Kounsovin to The Communication Initiative on August 20 2009 and August 26 2009, respectively.

ICT Enabled Development: Using ICT Strategically to Support Plan’s Work

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Hannah Beardon

Based on inputs from Plan staff in Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Senegal, and Uganda, this report is part of an ongoing process, led and supported by Plan Finland and Plan USA (United States), to suppor


Plan Finland website, December 17 2010. YETAM CMR 236.jpg

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