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Annual Review 2002/2003
 
 
A year in review
BBC World Service Trust


Through the innovative use and reach of mass media, the BBC World Service Trust has been pioneering new ways to aid reconstruction, promote health and reduce poverty in the developing world
 
An independent charity established in 1999 and the international development arm of the BBC, the Trust has supported reconstruction work in Afghanistan, launched the largest HIV/Aids campaign ever undertaken in India, concluded an 18-month trachoma-awareness initiative in Ethiopia, Ghana, Nepal and Niger, and launched a ground-breaking literacy initiative in Somalia.
 


The HIV/Aids campaign developed new radio and television programmes in India to reinforce key messages, reaching more than 50 million people
 
“There is no shortage of ideas,” said Stephen King, Director, BBC World Service Trust. “The range and scale of our projects is growing rapidly and with the right funding there is much more we can do to reduce poverty in a highly effective way.”
 
This past year, the Trust’s HIV/Aids media campaign has yielded some impressive results. Four months into the 10-month campaign, an independent survey conducted by A C Neilsen and Johns Hopkins University found that the campaign had reached 60% of the target population in five northern Indian states – more than 50 million people.
 
On a national level, some of the television programmes are watched weekly by more than 150 million people. The campaign developed new radio and television programmes to reinforce key messages about HIV/Aids. These were primarily based on the need for young people to protect themselves and for an end to discrimination against those living with Aids. The programmes included Jasoos Vijay (Detective Vijay), India’s first interactive detective drama which was screened three times a week and involved the audience in the detection process; Haath Se Haath Milaa (Let’s Join Hands Together), a weekly youth ‘reality’ television travel show; and Chat Chowk, a weekly radio phone-in show dealing with personal health issues. In addition to these programmes, advertising spots ran three times a day, on both television and radio, for the duration of the campaign. In total, over 1,000 individual broadcasts were aired and the campaign also organised more than 3,500 video screenings of the programmes in rural villages with poor access to radio and television. These were followed by community discussions conducted by NGO facilitators.
 
The campaign is aimed at preventing an epidemic in India’s northern states. With an estimated four million cases at the end of 2001, India has the world’s second highest absolute number of HIV cases after South Africa. In a country where discussing sexual health is still considered taboo, using television and radio to promote changes in behaviour and attitudes towards HIV/Aids has proved to be an effective way of tackling the problem.
 
Other highlights during the year include the rapid response which the Trust was able to mount to the crisis in Afghanistan. A week after the fall of Kabul, the Trust put together a BBC team to undertake an assessment of the immediate needs of the Afghan media. These findings were fed into the UN’s reconstruction conference, which took place in Tokyo in early 2002. The Trust then embarked on a comprehensive programme of training Afghan journalists, equipping Radio TV Afghanistan with the country’s first digital studios and working alongside the Ministry of Information and Culture to help develop the first policy for changing Radio TV Afghanistan into a public service broadcaster.
 
All the Trust’s work in Afghanistan is now managed by the Afghan Education Project, a highly skilled resource of Afghan dramatists, writers and production staff. They have been producing the innovative radio soap opera, New Home New Life, in Peshawar in Pakistan for the past eight years. The team moved to Kabul in October 2002 and re-established production of the educational soap along with a distance-learning programme for children and is now at the forefront of educational and developmental broadcasting in Afghanistan.
 
A year in review
BBC World Service Trust
 
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