Now! I know Better
“Now! I Know Better” is an innovative inclusive solution that adopts the Farreach perspective of using participatory communication for effective stakeholder engagement to improve family planning communication in Nigeria.
It is a multimedia communication intervention strategy designed to serve the under-served communities, reproductive age group, and adolescent group. It is a product of the current research work of Chijioke Dikeocha that advocates a paradigm shift in the use of participatory communication for effective stakeholder engagement in a development project in Africa. Driven by the premises that; (1) Participation is an inclusive process, (2) S/he who wears the shoe knows where it pinches most, (3) Stakeholders’ opinions especially the core beneficiaries of development intervention are not static, (4) The core beneficiaries of development intervention have voices and every voice demands a listening ear, “Now! I Know Better” recognises the beneficiaries of family planning services as the pillar upon which all the activities of family planning revolve.
Therefore, it creates a space for the beneficiaries especially under-served persons to actively participate in the creation and communication of family planning messages. This innovation engages a participatory approach in the creation of communication campaign instruments such as edutainment videos, audio dramas, handbills, social media campaigns etc.
Development Challenge “Now! I Know Better” will Address
With an estimated population of 211 million (UN, July 2021 forecast), Nigeria is challenged with an uncontrolled population growth rate of 2.64%. Down with a low CPR of 17% (mCPR 12% & Traditional method 5%) according to NDHS, 2018 report and with a very high fertility rate of 5.42% (World Bank, February 2021), Nigeria government launched a National Family Planning Communication Plan (2017-2020) to increase the CPR from 17% to 36% at the end of December 2018 to increase the demand for family planning. Interestingly, Track20 (July 2020) report showed that mCPR for all women was 11.3% while for married women was 13.4%.
This shows that the fight to save the life of millions of women and children from deaths caused by unintended pregnancies, maternal mortality, and child & infant mortality cannot be won without improved family planning communication. However, the current approach adopted to improve family planning communication has left over 60% of the population behind in the fight. For instance, in Imo State with an estimated population of 6.1 million persons has 68.2% (women 15-49 years) and 61.7% (men 15-49 years) do not have access or exposure to family planning messages (NDHS, 2018). These under-served persons are mostly the poor who live below $5 PPP per day.
Our target Beneficiaries
As an innovative inclusive solution, “Now! I Know Better” is designed to serve primarily the under-served persons (women & men between 15-49 years) who do not have access or exposure to family planning messages in Imo State, Nigeria. National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS, 2018) report shows that 83.1 % of women and 80.6% of men in the lowest wealth quintile do not have access or exposure to family planning messages in Nigeria. While 78.6% of women and 66.6% of men in the second wealth quintile do not have access or exposure to family planning messages. National Population Commission categorised the respondents to this survey in five scale wealth quintile (lowest, second, middle, fourth and fifth).
Our main target beneficiaries are to serve men and women between 15-49 years who fall on the lowest and second wealth quintile and who do not have access or exposure to family planning messages. Also, this innovation will serve mostly the poor in the reproductive age group (15-49 years) and the adolescent group (12-18 years).
How our approach will improve upon other ways of solving the problem?
“Now! I know Better” closes the wide gap between the key stakeholders and the core beneficiaries of family planning services. The current approaches engage consumer marketing communication strategy and integrated marketing communication strategy in behavioural change communication to create and communicate family planning messages, hence they recognise and treat the core beneficiaries as receivers or mere passive participates that provide only feedback in the communication process.
By adopting the Farreach perspective, the core beneficiaries are fully integrated into the communication process, thereby making them actively participate in the communication process. Consumer marketing communication and integrated marketing communication rely heavily on persuasive communication strategy while the Farreach perspective moves from persuasive communication strategy to partnership strategy which is easier, efficient and more cost-effective in communicating family planning messages.
“Now! I Know Better” introduces Farreach Mobile TV/Radio stations which bring innovative ideas, creativity and more efficient methods of community broadcasting. The current traditional community broadcasting model is outdated and cannot be effective in community broadcasting in the 21st century. Farreach perspective is introducing an innovative concept of community broadcasting in Nigeria which will serve as a “carrier of development torch”. This new concept is built on the principles of modern social enterprise. Wherever Farreach Mobile TV/Radio stations go, they ignite the light of development in that community.
What we have done to date
In 2018, I started thinking critically about finding better ways of communicating development initiatives to reach the core beneficiaries of development intervention in Africa. I carefully studied over 200 pieces of literature on communicating development initiatives and social change in Africa. In 2020, I started preparing a research paper, “Using Participatory Communication for Effective Stakeholder Engagement: Farreach Perspective” to document my findings.
I submitted the research paper to an international peer-reviewed journal, Communicatio, published by Taylor & Francis on December 4, 2020. After the first review of the research paper by the Editor-in-Chief of the journal, the editor sent it to other blind reviewers. The research paper is in the peer review stage now.
To put the perspective of my research paper into practice, I designed a communication intervention strategy, ‘Now! I Know Better” to improve family planning communication in Nigeria. For over two years now, I took this task as a career and academic project, I have committed a lot of time and resources to achieve the goals. It has been self-funded. Moving the project beyond this stage, I am soliciting assistance to translate the Farreach perspective from an idea to a practical model of communicating development initiatives in Africa.
What we hope to achieve
Firstly, with a grant from Global Innovative Fund or any other fund we will receive, we hope to implement “Now! I Know Better” in Nigeria with a population of 211 million persons and 39.1% persons living below $2 PPP per day (World Bank, February 2021). Starting with a pilot project in Imo State with an estimated population of 6.1 million persons that have over 35% living under $5 PPP per day (World Bank, February 2021), we hope to reach out to over 2 million men and women between 15-49 years who do not have access or exposure to family planning messages. We intend to save the lives of about 1.2 million women and over 3 million children from unintended pregnancies, maternal mortality and child & infant mortality. Also, we are targeting to reach about 3 million persons in the reproductive age group and 1.8 million persons in the adolescent group with our communication intervention strategy.
Secondly, Farreach Mobile TV/Radio will be live on-air and online, providing modern community broadcasting to the under-served communities in Imo State, Nigeria. As a carrier of the development torch, Farreach Mobile TV/Radio will be igniting the light of development in different communities, thereby destroying the darkness of underdevelopment. Thirdly, we will empower the under-served communities, amplify their voices, and build their capacities and confidences in discussing development issues that affect their lives.
Our Plan to Scale this Innovation
Our plan for scaling the innovation is strategic. By creating space for the under-served communities to actively participate in the communication process, we have won their trust and partnership in scaling the innovation.
Rather than persuading them to accept the message like when consumer marketing communication strategy or integrated marketing communication is used, they are at the forefront leading the campaign to increase demand for family planning. They are the crusaders and champions of this innovation. Therefore, the demand side of our theory of change is covered effectively. On the supply side, we are partnering with Farreach Initiative for Development Communication in Africa, Inc. who is facilitating the communication intervention campaign while Imo State Ministry of Health and Imo State Primary Health Development Agency are providing the workforce and commodities for family planning services. “Now! I Know Better” is data and evidence-based driven, and it promises to reach at the very core of grassroots mobilization, enlightenment and participation, thereby serving the under-served communities. With the assistance of our partners, we will collect accurate data from every Community Health Centre and private health care providers for monitoring and evaluation. Also, Farreach Mobile TV/Radio stations for community broadcasting will accelerate the