A Consolidated Draft Report

Publication Date
September 1, 2014

This 53-page audience reception report discusses the findings of a study conducted by the Soul City Institute for Health and Development Communication on the implementation of a programme on sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) among youths and key populations in Southern Africa. Working with Soul City partners - Pakachere Institute for Health and Development Communication in Malawi, Desert Soul Health and Development Communication in Namibia, Zambia Centre for Communication Programme (ZCCP), and Action Institute for Environment Health and Development Communication in Zimbabwe - the programme uses print, audio, and visual materials, complemented by social mobilisation activities, to reach key populations (female sex workers, truck drivers, and communities in border areas). (For more information on the programmme, see Related Summaries at the bottom of the page).

The study is based on "20 in-depth interviews (IDIs) among truck drivers and Wellness Centre/clinic managers, and 12 focus group discussions (FGDs) among female sex workers and members of the general public in the border areas." Each country produced a report, and the four reports were meta-analysed to produce this consolidated report. The study was carried out between May and July 2014 and focused on obtaining audience responses to a few key programme interventions: audio and video materials; sex worker pamphlets; and posters. The report notes that while the study focused on assessing reception of the material created during this campaign, many respondents mentioned other materials produced by partner organisations during earlier interventions.

The materials were largely distributed through existing local organisations, agents, and wellness centres at border areas. Truck drivers and sex workers largely reported reading the print materials and listening to the audio programmes/drama, while community members reported listening to the radio drama, watching television and mobile videos, reading posters on HIV prevention, and, in some cases, being exposed to community mobilisation toolkits. "Overall, all categories of research participants (wellness centre managers, female sex workers, truck drivers, and the general community members) liked the communication materials. They felt that the materials were informative, educative, realistic, and helpful." Sex workers liked the human-rights-based approach of the posters, while truck drivers appreciated being able to listen to the audio materials on CD or flash drive in their own private space.

The report also mentions that research participants from the general public and female sex workers found the materials to be relevant and true to their own lives, which "was said to help them reflect on their lives and help them adopt healthy behaviours." On the other hand, some truck drivers "did not like the content and presentation of some materials that they thought gave people the impression that truck drivers are promiscuous, womanisers, and HIV carriers." Audience respondents indicated that they learned a lot about: "communication between couples and sexual satisfaction; healthy lifestyles; abstinence; avoiding child marriages; respect for the institution of marriage; faithfulness; and also how to keep themselves in married life by satisfying their spouses." As well, there is significant evidence of the materials prompting dialogue and debate.

Research participants attributed behaviour changes in their own lives to their exposure to the country partners' communication materials. Participants reported as some of the changes: using condoms; reducing the number of sexual partners; and going for HIV testing and counselling The wellness centre managers also reported behavioural changes among their clients that they attributed to the clients' exposure to their and partner organisations' materials and interventions.

The report outlines a few suggestions for improving future materials. For example, truck drivers suggested that the content should be more neutral and not depict them as being promiscuous. It was also suggested that the materials be distributed with more frequency and in a way that more drivers are able to receive the materials. Other suggestions include engaging peer educators to help explain content, designing some messages for sex workers' clients and young people, and using appropriate languages (for example, truck drivers at the border in Namibia received materials in Oshiwambo, Silozi and Khoe-khoegowab but would have preferred English or Afrikaans).

The discussion section notes that respondents "reported increased knowledge and awareness, reflection, debate, and behaviour change on many aspects of behaviour notably correct and consistent condom use, HIV testing and counselling, reducing sexual partners, avoiding alcohol abuse and related risky behaviours, and human rights." While behaviour change is difficult to measure, the evaluation suggests the audience was prompted to engage in reflection, dialogue, and debate, which are precursors to change. Many respondents referred to more than one media format and to materials produced both as part of this campaign and other interventions. "The effectiveness of multi-media exposure has been shown and recommended in other studies and this study has confirmed the importance of this approach." Likewise, the findings reinforce "that the effect of communication materials can last for a long time, even beyond the life cycle of a project."


Email from Tafadzwa Madondo of Soul City to Soul Beat Africa on January 20 2015.
Image credit: ZCCP