Enugu taxi initiative drives home messages on child survival
Enugu, 28 April 2010 - UNICEF Nigeria’s Field Office in Enugu, eastern Nigeria, has partnered with the private sector to literally ‘drive home’ key messages for accelerated child survival and development in the zone by posting public interest messages on the State’s new yellow cabs in what is being called the ‘Drive it Home’ initiative.
The yellow taxis were introduced by the Enugu State Government to support people fight poverty and thus help achieve the millennium development goal on poverty eradication.
UNICEF Nigeria’s Field Office in Enugu saw the taxi scheme as an excellent opportunity to also advocate for children’s rights and educate the public on improving the poor child survival indices in the zone.
The ‘Drive it Home’ initiative is a collaboration of UNICEF and LOOKMEDIA, a private, Enugu-based advertisement firm. Its aim is to ‘drive’ home critical messages on child survival and key household practices to the people in the areas the taxis ply their trade.
The initiative also seeks to reinforce existing messages on radio and television as well as messages delivered through capacity and systems development programmes that UNICEF is supporting in Nigeria.
Key messages on the taxis are drawn from the various UNICEF programme areas in Nigeria about child survival and protection, prevention and care of HIV and AIDS and water and sanitation and development. The messages can be read by the passengers who use the taxis on a regular basis as well as by members of the general public when the taxis drive by.
Developing the initiative further, UNICEF and the cab drivers engage in regular dialogue on how the ‘Drive it Home initiative’ is received by the public. In a way, these taxi drivers become agents of change when they have to respond to numerous queries about the messages posted on their taxis. UNICEF also provided the drivers with cards that have easy to read information on them. These help the drivers respond to questions they are asked by the public as well as share the information with interested members of society.
UNICEF is working with LOOKMEDIA to develop simple monitoring tools that can measure the effect of sharing these messages with the public and give feedback to UNICEF for further improvement.
“The initiative is effective and messages are being accessed by passengers. I believe it is making a difference in people’s lives.” said Femi Okoro, a driver of one of these special taxis in Enugu.
“People are always stopping to read the information on the taxis... I think they will go a long way to save lives”, says Madam Okoye, a grocery seller in Enugu.
“We see yellow cabs from Enugu passing through our villages and they look beautiful with the picture of a woman breastfeeding her baby. We like it because breastfeeding saves lives”, says George, a member of Mpu community in Agwu Local Government Area.
“UNICEF is ready to support such public dissemination of critical child survival messages and key household practices that will save lives of children at the household level as well as influence state sector plans and budgets to leverage resources to achieve greater results for children”, says Mrs Pelucy Ntambirweki, Chief of UNICEF Field Office in Enugu.
Mr Johnson Ani, owner and driver of an Enugu taxi who resides at the coal camp area of the town had this to say: “I'm so proud to be a part of this effort in Enugu – to help the public improve their knowledge of saving children. People like our cars more than other ones because of that."
Based on the positive response so far, UNICEF in collaboration with LOOKMEDIA and the office of Her Excellency, the wife of the Enugu State Governor, plans to continue disseminating such information through regular mobilisation of rural communities to further raise awareness about child survival and to garner more collaboration from the private sector in supporting the agenda of children.
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