Equal Access creates customized communication strategies and outreach solutions that address the most critical problems affecting people in rural areas. By designing and producing compelling local language audio and multi-media programs incountry, it aims to educate and catalyze behavior change in target audiences.
Equal Access also analyzes local infrastructures and uses a range of technologies to develop the best dissemination strategy—satellite broadcasting, AM/FM station broadcasts, community outreach or a combination. Equal Access partners with Government and international agencies, NGOs and community-based organizations to increase the impact and broaden the reach of existing development efforts.
Our innovative methodology brings together a multi-sectoral stakeholders committee that combines relevant direct outreach NGOs, sector professionals and experts, behavior change communications specialists, INGOs and funding agencies. Equal Access utilizes this committee structure to utilize and help build the capacity of local partners. Often, the opportunity to participate on the stakeholder committee in the formation of a series of interlocking mass media programs creates additional linkages between existing and new planned program activities. Also, participation in the stakeholder committee helps drive connections for community leadership trainings and NGO capacity building efforts. Through bi-weekly meetings with the Content Advisory Group (CAG) – a subset of the stakeholder committee including project leaders, field experts, and outreach team – the creative team would continually revise scripts and recordings based on reports from the field and ongoing planning and implementation efforts.
Organized discussion groups for Radio Drama with Voices From the Field and Magazine Show – In order to maximize the impact of development media, multiple approaches that reinforce messages across social groups require several simultaneous media avenues that are directly complemented by outreach services and community mobilization. By combining community leadership training and capacity building for NGO outreach staff, our innovative methodology turns radio shows, such as a radio drama, into a key resource for community leaders and NGO outreach staff to catalyze community action around complex issues like HIV or tuberculosis. Listeners become participants who want to emulate behaviours modeled by characters in the Radio Drama, gain solidarity from hearing how others in similar situations overcame the same obstacles in the Voices from the Field reports and learn how to access services or participate in programs (like tuberculosis treatment programs or livelihood trainings) from a Magazine Show. When a volunteer community member, supported by a trained NGO outreach worker, is trained to catalyze discussions the radio programs communities are more likely to demonstrate sustained behaviour change. Importantly, other relevant and interrelated topics such as nutrition, drug regimen adherence, sustainable livelihoods, women’s empowerment or anti-corruption can be integrated into the leadership trainings, capacity building efforts and the combined three part radio show. For instance, in conflict situations a critical element of any training would address the conflict by engaging local peace activists in catalyzing discussions.
Community Training Program
Although radio cannot replace direct face-to-face trainings, a community health volunteer/worker, or teacher training distance learning program can help reinforce key messages that may be forgotten quickly. By modeling tools for diagnosing diseases, recommending treatments and encouraging participation in health care systems, or providing interactive radio instruction to teachers and their students, the distance learning radio programs help isolated workers stay connected with broader campaigns and each other while demonstrating best strategies and tactics for encouraging participation from reluctant or suspicious community members. Furthermore, satellite broadcasts help make sure maintain connections even if local radio stations are unavailable or will not play the programs that may include announcements about trainings, supplies or paychecks.
Communications for Development Media Trainings
In order to extend and deepen the impact of behaviour change communications media, Equal Access trains staff from local media outlets, community FMs and/or government radio stations, how to collect non-political, soft-journalism, human interest stories, aka Voices From The Field, adding a high impact component to the radio shows. By recording community discussions about the combined radio and outreach campaigns, listeners and media outlets have a stake in participating and requesting new information and services for their listeners. Through equipment provision and training on digital recording production techniques, these trainings encourage local media outlets to support the campaigns with free or reduced broadcast rates while combating rumors and providing the Content Advisory Group with community perspectives on the campaign. Additionally, Equal Access field reporters conduct regular visits (as safe and practical) of local sites to monitor program effectiveness, collect listener feedback forms and record local impressions of the program.
Supporting coordination and service delivery
Via our satellite radio service and the programs like those mentioned above, Equal Access help reach local communities and internally displaced persons, improve coordination of services at the local level, while building and leveraging the capacity of local NGO networks and community leaders to fully participate in the campaign. This combination of media and outreach programs will increases the utilization of services while decreasing vulnerabilities, while also helping build and leverage partnerships for sustainable livelihoods, sanitation or family planning. The opportunity to build and strengthen civil society efforts and media openness alongside this campaign will improve local capacity create locally sustainable solutions that account for the ongoing conflict.