How is a radio drama helping to improve water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) among young children in Ethiopia?

In partnership with UNICEF, BBC Media Action's radio drama and public service announcements about 'BabyWASH' aimed to change high rates of communicable disease.

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Diarrhoea poses a great risk to young children in Ethiopia, and high rates of communicable disease - including diarrhoea - are linked to dirty water and poor sanitation and hygiene practices. In partnership with UNICEF, BBC Media Action's radio drama and public service announcements about 'BabyWASH' aimed to change that.

Published: March 2019

At the outset of our BabyWASH project, formative research in October 2017 found poor sanitation and hygiene, and consumption of unsafe drinking water, in many households with children under the age of three. Evidence demonstrates that this contributes to childhood diarrhoea and higher rates of child mortality. 

To give these young children a better chance at a healthy life, BBC Media Action worked with UNICEF on a radio drama and public service announcements, using creativity to address gaps in knowledge and existing attitudes and social norms around 'BabyWASH' - water, sanitation and hygiene practices for young children. We also trained health extension workers in how to communicate effectively in outreach activites including listening and discussion groups, to leverage existing government structures and efforts.

A mixed-methods evaluation of BBC Media Action’s BabyWASH programme in Bensa woreda of Ethiopia found that the radio programme improved knowledge and reinforced information from health extension workers, and led to healthier BabyWASH practice among participants in our listener groups.