Hadiza Babayaro

Scaling Up: Riding the Airwaves

By Brian W. Simpson • Photo by David Colwell

Reaching individual communities with public health messages delivered by their neighbors can make a real difference. But in Nigeria, with its population of 140 million, there is always the issue of scale. Building capacity within a single community takes an investment of time and human resources, notes Susan Krenn, CCP's program director. "How do you do that to scale across 1,000 communities instead of 15?"

One answer is radio. Ku Saurara! (Listen Up!) is a popular radio show launched in 2002 by the Center for Communication Programs (CCP) that targets young people and weaves messages about reproductive health, family planning and other issues into an engaging narrative. Available in five states in northern Nigeria, Ku Saurara! produced 130 shows in its first five years, providing basic reproductive health information in a region where it is scarce.

Girls who become pregnant don't know what to do and can resort to infanticide, says Hadiza Babayaro (above), senior program officer for the project. (An average of eight babies a month are left on the streets of Kano, she says.) To reinforce the radio show's public health messages, the project sponsors listener clubs for young people to discuss issues raised by the program. Babayaro and other project leaders have partnered with Muslim sister organizations and recently persuaded policymakers to fund reproductive health programs in Kano for the first time.

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