How Talking Book user feedback helped UNICEF identify community challenges around teen pregnancy and child protection
“It is not our fault that the children get married. We enroll them in school, pay all costs involved in their education, and advise them to stop dating boys, but they don’t listen to our advice. What can we do to make sure they are 18 years before we allow them to get married?”
During a Talking Book quarterly update, Literacy Bridge Ghana (LBG) deployed new messaging on child marriage and corporal punishment for UNICEF’s Communication for Development (C4D) program in the Upper West Region. When the team evaluated Talking Book usage statistics and user feedback at the end of the quarter, they noticed a spike in the number of user feedback messages. What was going on?
In this case, when the user feedback messages were processed, the team learned that Talking Book listeners in many communities felt that the messaging did not address their specific concerns. Citizens were complaining and requesting more information.
While complaints may not sound like a good thing, they were actually a great way for UNICEF to identify issues, hear what the communities needed, and figure out what actions, resources, and new content were needed to improve their program.
A community discussion with members of households that listen to Talking Books through UNICEF Ghana’s Communication for Development Program. Ping, Upper West, Ghana. © Amplio / Francis Kokoroko 2019
GETTING COMMUNITY VOICES TO DECISION MAKERS
Development organizations often struggle to hear directly from those they serve, especially when target populations live in rural, hard to reach areas. Due to location, language, and literacy barriers, community voices typically get filtered through field workers, survey questions, and census data. That’s where the Talking Book user feedback feature can make a difference. With the Talking Book’s built-in microphone, listeners can record their questions and comments, providing valuable insights in their own words and voices. When built into the program model, organizations can use Talking Books to effectively close the community feedback loop that program managers often struggle with.
For UNICEF Ghana’s program, user feedback revealed unique community challenges and concerns about teen pregnancy and child protection. As a result, UNICEF was able to hear and learn from program participants and respond to their needs.
“You said we should not use corporal punishment to correct the child. The question is what should a parent do if his/her child refuses to go to school? Remember, no parent want to see the tears of the child. Some use pepper on their children, but I think it does not make sense to be that wicked. So how can we ensure that our children are disciplined?”
VOICING CONCERNS ABOUT TEEN PREGNANCY
When LBG viewed the Amplio dashboard to analyze usage data, they saw that a majority of the user feedback was recorded in response to child marriage and protection messaging. When the user feedback was translated and processed, they found a surprising number of complaints, along with requests for more information. People thought that the Talking Book content did not address the root causes of child marriage in their communities, particularly teen pregnancy as a result of consenual relationships, or rape and abuse. Parents reported that no matter what they did, girls continued to experience teen pregnancy, and in this context that meant an early marriage.
Additionally, feedback showed that people understood and appreciated the messages on the reasons corporal punishment was not healthy for children. But they wanted to know about alternative methods of discipline to keep children from going astray.
A young female head porter carrying a customer’s load through a market in Accra, Ghana. ©UNICEF/QUARMYNE/2015
Feedback also revealed a requests for information on how to prevent and protect children from leaving their villages to become head porters in the city. According to UNICEF, 21% of children in Ghana aged 5 to17 years are involved in child labor and 14% are engaged in hazardous forms of labor. Girls are most at risk. In rural areas the numbers are twice as high, due to poverty and social norms that make it acceptable for children to work.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT
After LBG analyzed the user feedback, they shared a summary with UNICEF Ghana, along with their recommendation for content updates. With UNICEF’s approval, LBG developed new a Talking Book playlist with targeted messaging on topics such as the effects of teen pregnancy, how to handle a child defilement case, and alternative ways to discipline children. To create the content, LBG referenced UNICEF materials, as well as information from World Health Organization and USAID’s Knowledge for Health project. They also recorded interviews with local subject matter experts, including a former female head porter on how her work affected her life. The new playlist was added to Talking Books the following quarter with the next content deployment.
Talking Book usage data and user feedback enables development professionals to gain a deeper understanding of the communities they serve and hear directly from program participants in their own voices. This feature, along with usage data, helps allows Amplio’s partners to continually update and improve content for greater impact.
Ready to learn more?
Contact Amplio to request a free consultation on how to integrate Talking Books into your social and behavior change strategy.
UNICEF Ghana’s Communication for Development program used Talking Books to deliver targeted messaging in northern Ghana. Updated quarterly, content addressed key family practices, from birth registration to water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH.) Launched in 2013, the program reached 100 communities in Jirapa, Tolon, and Karaga districts and came to a close in December 2019. A related project with Ghana Health Services is using Talking Books to strengthen health education and services at 15 community health posts in Jirapa.
Literacy Bridge Ghana is an Amplio affiliate. LBG provides Talking Book services, including technology training, SBCC consulting, content creation, and program implementation.
Visit the Literacy Bridge Ghana website.
Amplio’s Ryan Forbes Morris is an expert in community radio and capacity building for SBCC programs. He shares strategies for getting COVID-19 prevention information to remote, off-grid communities.
Expert advice on how to empower women through technology Revi Sterling, director of USAID’s WomenConnect Challenge, says the gender digital divide is growing. Yet women are the key to successful digital development. (Check out our interviews with Revi about data,...
Understanding the communities you work in is key to creating effective content for social and behavior change communication (SBCC) programs.
Revi Sterling, director of USAID’s WomenConnect Challenge, discusses how to navigate the capricious winds of donor interest. “Funding digital development to empower women must be tied to getting good data, but this is not a common practice,” she says. “It needs to happen at the policy level and have the weight of funders and industry behind it.”
The government-led Niger Smart Villages pilot kicked off at the end February. Talking Books will be used to deliver health and education information, drive demand for services, and collect community feedback.
Revi Sterling, director of USAID’s WomenConnect Challenge, discusses a growing gender digital divide and why women are key to sustainable development. “Every woman in the world who is able to own a mobile phone, has one. This is about the one-billion-plus who don’t.”
In 2017, UNICEF Rwanda’s Communication for Development program at Mahama Refugee Camp piloted the use of Talking Books in a refugee setting for the first time. Talking Books more than doubled the reach of their health and sanitation messaging.
Amplio is thankful for all of our Talking Book friends, partners, and supporters. Because of you, Talking Books inspire listeners to stay in school, seek antenatal care, and gain new skills and knowledge to improve their lives. Here are some of their stories.
“Growing up in a village where many people are uneducated makes it difficult for children to understand how they will benefit in the future from going to school now. The Talking Book message about the consequences of dropping out of school inspired me to stay in school and learn. Anytime I see the Talking Book I smile because it is a great influence in my life.”
Ghana has made some progress in reducing maternal and child mortality, but there’s still more work to do. Involving men in pregnancy and child care is important to ensuring better maternal and child health.