The Advocacy Role of the Talking Book — Creating a Community Feedback Loop
Updated: Mar 3, 2022
A woman in Ghana records a Talking Book user feedback message.
How the Talking Book user feedback function supports community perspectives and inclusion for program impact and decisions
The Amplio Talking Book is not only a social behavior change communication tool that provides knowledge and information to rural populations, but also an advocacy tool for the rural communities where we work. With the Talking Book, users can record their feedback on issues of concern that prevent them from practicing the positive behaviors that Talking Book programs seek to promote.
The Talking Book user feedback mechanism is an innovative way to promote advocacy and accountability. It allows Amplio and our partners to gain a deeper understanding of people's barriers, motivators, concerns, and ideas at the household and community levels—in their own words and voices. In turn, we can then bring those insights to the attention of duty bearers and policymakers, so they can take action.
Recording and processing user feedback
With the Talking Book's built-in microphone, users can record their feedback. Each device can collect hundreds (or thousands) of user feedback messages. Many programs are delivered to communities that speak different local or indigenous languages. As you can imagine, it takes time and resources to listen to and process user feedback, but it's incredibly rewarding to hear from those we serve. Community members are anonymous (unless they tell us their name). However, in the Amplio dashboard, we can see which community or group is recording a specific user feedback message.
Amplio is currently piloting a new system for processing user feedback.
User feedback and data privacy
At the center of user feedback is the question of data privacy. To ensure that sensitive feedback is “blocked” from other people listening, Talking Book users are trained on how to lock sensitive information they want only duty bearers and program implementers to hear. In addition, in early 2022, the Amplio Ghana team will field test a new Talking Book prototype that runs on rechargeable batteries and offers enhanced data security.
Talking Book user feedback allows us to hear directly from community members.
From advocacy to accountability
In Ghana, community members of all ages listen to Talking Books. For a UNICEF Ghana program covering eight districts in the Upper West Region and two in the Northern Region, participants quickly learned how to record user feedback. UNICEF's program focused on four key sectors: health, child protection, education, and WASH. In response to Talking Book messages on these topics, communities spoke out about how teachers contribute to teenage pregnancy, how nurses maltreat women when they go to health facilities to deliver, and how the distance to the nearest school and poor roads adversely impact health, education, children, and the communities as a whole.
Talking Book user feedback provides insights for duty bearers like Florence Angsomwine, director of the Jirapa District Health Directorate.
Through our stakeholder engagements, the Amplio Ghana team presented this feedback to the various concerned agencies and departments, including district health directorates and district education directorates. To their credit, decision-makers listened and took action, investigating the issues and making policy changes where needed.
At the program level, our team and UNICEF worked together to create new Talking Book messages to support community requests for specific information, ranging from how to address the challenges of teen pregnancy and children leaving the village to work in the city, to practical lessons on how to make soap from ash or build a Tippy Tap.
Advocacy through the Talking Book comes into play after the launch of a program, as user feedback enables the program team to hear from communities and learn about behavior change barriers—as well as emerging issues—that might not have been discovered by a formative assessment during community entry.
Through Talking Book usage data and user feedback, Amplio and our partners can gain a deeper understanding of those we serve, identify issues and trends, and continually update and improve content for greater success. Program implementers can also share user feedback and key take-aways with other organizations and government agencies that are developing similar programs or working on related issues.
Fidelis Da-uri is the senior content manager for Amplio Ghana.
See also: Giving Communities a Voice about Teen Pregnancy and Child Protection