Giving Communities a Voice on Teen Pregnancy and Other Child Protection Issues
Updated: Mar 3, 2022
How Talking Book user feedback helped UNICEF Ghana identify and understand local challenges around teen pregnancy and child protection
During a Talking Book quarterly update for UNICEF's Communication for Development (C4D) program in the Upper West Region, Amplio Ghana deployed a new set of messages about child marriage and corporal punishment.
Later on, when the team evaluated Talking Book usage data and user feedback at the end of the quarter, they saw a spike in the number of user feedback messages.
What was going on?
In this case, when the team processed UNICEF's Talking Book user feedback, they learned that listeners in many communities felt that the child marriage and corporal punishment messages did not address their specific challenges and concerns. Community members complained and requested more information!
Learning from user feedback complaints
While complaints may not sound like a good thing, they were actually a great way for the Amplio team and UNICEF to identify the challenges and barriers to social and behavior change in specific communities. With this insight, the partners could figure out what actions and resources were needed to improve their Talking Book program.
“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?”
A community discussion with households that listen to Talking Books through UNICEF Ghana’s Communication for Development Program. Ping, Upper West, Ghana
Getting community voices to decision-makers
Development organizations often struggle to hear directly from those they serve, especially when target populations live in hard-to-reach rural areas. Due to location, language, and literacy barriers, community voices typically get filtered through field workers, survey questions, and census data. That’s where Talking Book user feedback can make a difference. With the 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 the Amplio Ghana team viewed the dashboard to analyze usage data, they noticed a spike in user feedback in response to child marriage and child protection messages. They decided to investigate. When they dug into the user feedback, they found a surprising number of complaints and requests for more information.
Community members felt the Talking Book content did not address the root causes of child marriage in their communities. People were concerned about teen pregnancy as a result of consensual relationships, as well as rape and abuse. Parents reported that no matter what they did or said, girls continued to experience pregnancy—and in this context that meant an early marriage.
A young female head porter carrying a customer’s load through a market in Accra, Ghana. ©UNICEF/QUARMYNE/2015
Requests for information on discipline and child labor
Additional user feedback showed that families appreciated the messages about why corporal punishment is not healthy for children. But they wanted to know more about alternative methods of discipline to keep children from going astray.
Feedback also revealed 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. Child protection is a key focus for UNICEF Ghana.
Recommendations for improvement
After analyzing the user feedback, Amplio Ghana shared a summary with UNICEF and made recommendations for content updates. With UNICEF’s approval, the team created new a 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 new content, the team referenced UNICEF materials, as well as information from the 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 user feedback enables Amplio and our partners to staff to gain a deeper understanding of the communities we serve and hear directly from participants in their own words and voices. This feature, along with usage data, allows us to identify issues and trends and continually update and improve Talking Book content for greater impact.