Soap operas promote conservation and biodiversity in 16 countries

12 February 2011 | News story

Gorilla, tiger and dancing coral fish mascots are coming to communities in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia through communications campaigns supported by PCI-Media Impact.

By Lindsey Wahlstrom for Sean Southey, CEC member and Executive Director of PCI-Media Impact

PCI-Media Impact (Media Impact) is training leaders around the world to use Entertainment-Education soap operas and social marketing campaigns to promote biodiversity in their communities. Gorilla, tiger and dancing coral fish mascots are coming to a community near you this year thanks to communications campaigns in 16 countries throughout the Caribbean, Africa and Asia.

The campaigns to promote biodiversity conservation are produced by coalitions of local partners – non-profit organization, local government and service providers -- in conjunction with PCI-Media Impact (Media Impact).

For 25 years, Media Impact has trained partners around the world to use Entertainment-Education to address critical social and environmental issues in their communities. Entertainment-Education (E-E) incorporates vital information into entertaining media programs to simultaneously educate and amuse audiences. The non-profit organization has helped produce more than 200 such programs, most of which address sexual health and empowerment of marginalized communities.

In addition to its traditional programs, this year Media Impact is working with regional and national partners to launch several new productions that promote a wide range of environmental issues, from community-based adaptation to climate change, to habitat and species conservation.

Two programs have already launched, including the 12-country Caribbean program, My Island – My Community, and Hen Mpoano, a USAID partnership program in Ghana.

These exciting initiatives pair Media Impact’s My Community approach to social change communications with partners’ deep understanding of the issues and cultural context. More than 30 regional and national partners, including U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, UNDP GEF-SGP, USAID and The Nature Conservancy, are supporting the work of the My Island – My Community program. Hen Mpoano is part of a multi-million dollar USAID coastal management strategy implemented by SustainaMextrix, the Coastal Resources Center, Friends of the Nation and the World Fish Center.

My Community is a sustainable approach to social change because it focuses on strengthening the capacity of local people and organizations to promote lasting behaviour change through multi-tiered communications programs. Each program uses an E-E serial drama to role model desired behaviours for the target audience, a talk show to generate debate about important issues, and a My Community action campaign to encourage communities to turn the conversation into action.

Later this year, programs to conserve Cross River gorilla and Indochinese tiger habitats will broadcast in the Cross River area of Nigeria and Cameroon and Lao, respectively. Additional programs are planned for South and Central America.

The radio dramas and talk shows will begin broadcasting in May, with the community campaigns following soon after. Stay tuned for more details.

Lindsey Wahlstrom
Communications Officer, PCI-Media Impact
lwahlstrom@mediaimpact.org