Using music and comics, Community Media for Development (CMFD) Productions, together with music group Sigauque Project, are implementing the project Creative Arts for Youth HIV/AIDS Prevention - Music and Comics in Chamanculo in Maputo, Mozambique. Launched in January 2012, the objective of the project is to promote HIV/AIDS awareness among the youth, while changing attitudes towards protection and preventative methods.
A series of 12 wall posters are being produced, each addressing a different theme related to HIV awareness and prevention. Over 12 weeks, one comic poster per week will be posted in public spaces such as markets, schools, and drinking spots. According to CMFD Productions, wall comics were chosen as a strategy because unlike comic books, which a person is more likely to read alone, wall comics posted in public places tend to be read by groups of people, thus encouraging community dialogue as people react to and discuss the stories they read or the images they see.
To ensure relevance and appeal, CMFD held workshops with groups of youth in Maputo to help them outline the different situations, major and otherwise, that had to do with sexual awareness and vulnerability in their society. The workshops identified several key topics for the project to address:
- No means no – sexual violence
- Alcohol abuse
- Countering stigma
- Coping with peer pressure
- Prevention – using condoms
- Prevention – girls responses to persuasion
- Dangers of transactional sex
- Getting tested
- Multiple concurrent partnerships as a risk
For the music component of the project, CMFD worked with local band Sigauque Project to produce two songs about HIV/AIDS. These songs will be the focus of a concert in Chamanculo, and will then be distributed to radio stations. A community concert was chosen to launch the new songs and the youth comic campaign as this will also provide an additional opportunity to communicate HIV messages and distribute information provided by local partner organisations.
With an estimated population of 800,000 residents, Chamanculo is one of the most densely populated areas in Mozambique. As Mozambique’s overall population is comprised of over 50% youth, it is likely that that there are over 400,000 youth in Chamanculo. While the proposed concert and media outreach was relevant and raised awareness among all age groups, the key target group was young people aged 15 – 25, both male and female. Poverty, gender inequality, high crime and violence, and alcohol abuse all combine to encourage risky behaviour among Chamanculo youth. Early and unintended pregnancies are widespread, and although most youth in this urban area are aware of HIV/AIDS and protection methods, changing attitudes and behaviours was still a challenge. Gender inequality, transactional or survival sex, and high rates of gender violence make young women especially vulnerable, which is why, according to CMFD, there was such a desperate need for such a project.
With this information in mind, this intervention is designed to result in:
- increased awareness and information about HIV prevention and services available;
- increased dialogue among youth, as well as the community at large, about HIV as well as harmful norms, habits, and attitudes;
- new perspectives and understanding among youth and the community about how such factors, as well as GBV and alcohol, encourage risky behaviours;
- greater awareness among young women about the risks specific to them, and their own ability to prevent HIV; and
- a sense of pride among youth and the community about media generated by this community, for this community.
Community Media for Development (CMFD) Productions, Sigauque Project, US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)
CMFD website on May 12 2012.