Season 2 of Watasay Ston Radio Drama Successfully Passes Another Phase

Season 2 of Watasay Ston Radio Drama Successfully Passes Another Phase
May 13, 2020 5:38 pm Blog

By Fatmata Katta

 

Behavior change communication (BCC) products such as radio dramas can be powerful tools to increase people’s knowledge and change their perceptions, attitudes and behaviors around social and environmental issues. To ensure the effectiveness of BCC products, however, it’s important to involve targeted communities in the production process and secure their ownership of the product. In line with this best practice, Season 2 of “Watasay Ston” (meaning Unmovable Rock in the Krio language), a radio drama series that tackles issues related to coastal resilience to climate change in Sierra Leone, was pretested across project communities in the country.

Season 1 of this novel radio program was developed by the USAID-funded West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WA BiCC) Program. The 24-episode radio drama was aired from July 2019 to February 2020 on two national radio stations (African Young Voices Radio and the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation) and two local radio stations (Radio Peninsula-Tombo and Radio Bontico). It focused heavily on mangrove conservation.

An initial evaluation study found the radio program to be instrumental in helping communities understand the importance of protecting mangroves rather than cutting them for wood. After recognizing the program’s success, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), an organization focused on sustainable development and currently supporting Sierra Leone with its Global Environment Facility (GEF)-funded Coastal Risks Management Project, partnered with WA BiCC to fund and develop Season 2. As a result of the joint effort between WA BiCC and UNDP, what started as a 24-episode radio drama has been scaled up to 48 episodes. The pretesting of the second season episodes was another giant step taken in the partnership.

Under the partnership, UNDP is producing Season 2 in four local languages (Mende, Temne, Krio and Sherbro). The pre-testing for Season 2 was done from March 21 to 24 in Bonthe, Shenge and Tombo, three of 24 coastal communities where WA BiCC and UNDP are working. Key staff from Sierra Leone’s Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and the Ministry of Fisheries joined WA BiCC and UNDP to facilitate the exercise, which allowed community stakeholders to critique the respective languages in which the drama was recorded and provide initial feedback. In each of the sessions, 10 participants, including key stakeholders from each community, sat in a semi-circle to listen to the first five episodes of the drama and discuss the content.

15 people seated in a circle, listening to the radio drama.
Community stakeholders in Shenge share feedback on Season 2 of Watasay Ston, produced through UNDP.

 

After listening, a questionnaire was administered on the most liked characters in the drama, the use of the languages and the effectiveness of the messages. The general feedback was positive as participants critically listened and made corrections to words and sentences mispronounced or misused. There was also feedback on the different dialects of each of the languages, as they vary by region. However, participants agreed that shouldn’t be a problem as the messages were clear in each language no matter the dialect. During the pre-test in Bonthe, the Mayor of Bonthe Municipality, Layemin Joe Sandi described the second season of the drama as interesting and a continuation of the story in the first season. He added that the drama also deals with issues across the coast with the story and characters linked, making it easier to follow and understand the content. Participants from the other communities shared similar sentiments.

Commenting on the partnership between UNDP and WA BiCC, the Project Manager of UNDP, Bintu Moseray, said “Working in partnership with the WA BiCC Program to deliver the Global Environment Facility Coastal Risks Management Project is considered laudable, especially in maximizing resources and expertise.”

Going forward, UNDP will ensure that the final production incorporates all the feedback from communities, followed by the launch of Season 2 in project communities and broadcast slated for May 2020.