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Infusing radio discussions with data | A Twaweza reflection

As part of our effort to disseminate relevant and actionable information directly to citizens, Twaweza engages with partner organizations who have already established wide reach. One such partner in Tanzania is the Christian Social Services Commission (CSSC), a coalition of the largest church denominations in Tanzania including Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican churches.

The aim of the partnership was to co-produce and distribute information about health and education services, focusing on the governance components. The purpose was to inform a large number of Tanzanian citizens on the quality of public services, to spark discussion about local services, and perhaps even motivate people to take action to improve those services.

Twaweza and CSSC co-produced 600,000 discussions guides for distribution among CSSC prayer groups (known as Jumuiya) by CSSC zonal offices.  In addition, Twaweza and CSSC partnered with five popular Christian radio stations to support the printed information and encourage discussion. The contracted radio stations were Radio Maria, Sauti FM, Sauti ya Injili FM, Upendo FM and Ukweli FM, and the aim was to air 1,350 prime-time programs on health and education issues by January 2016.

The initial idea had compelling components:

  1. Partner with an organization that has grassroots groups all over the country, and already brings people together for discussions
  2. Infuse these discussions with compelling new materials, and reinforce and echo the messages through radio program discussions on stations preferred by the target audience
  3. Provide the radio stations with materials they can use to enrich these discussions – to move from general to specific in terms of data, but also suggestions for action 

However, from idea to implementation can be a rocky road. First, it took the collaborating organizations a very long time to agree on the content and design of the main guides. In the meanwhile, the implementation of the radio component proceeded, since these were independent contracts with radio stations. The original reinforcing aspect of the implementation was therefore lost. Still, we wanted to find out at least how the radio discussions fared. 

The monitoring data presented in this brief is focused on the radio component only, with some thoughts and commentary on the trajectory of the partnership and lessons learned about modes of implementation. 

The quality checks of the radio programs revealed that vast majority (81%) of the programs did not follow the Twaweza discussion guidelines, and among the 52 clips not one referred to Twaweza reports or findings (though one program did cite health figures from the National Bureau of Statistics. 

To learn more about the findings read the full brief here.

Read more: evaluation learning Twaweza

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