In Ethiopia, UNICEF Reaching Adolescents through Nationwide Campaign and TV series

In partnership with Girl Effect, UNICEF develops public service announcements (PSA) and TV series on how adolescents can protect their health and wellbeing during COVID-19 and beyond.

By Hiwot Getachew
UNICEF Ethiopia/2021/Yegna
06 April 2021

UNICEF in partnership with Girl Effect and with funding support from Global Affairs Canada, is running a nationwide COVID-19 and healthy lifestyle campaign targeting adolescents in Ethiopia.

The TV spots and series shed light on the challenges young people are facing during COVID-19 that are not necessarily discussed openly with peers. It seeks to help young people wrestling through these questions and dilemmas. The objective of this media campaign is to build awareness, knowledge and positive attitudes on COVID-19 prevention, school reopening, nutrition, hygiene, gender-based violence, menstrual health and hygiene, mental health and their wellbeing messages.

The campaign is expected to reach over 15 million people, with a strong focus on adolescents between the age of 13-19, youth between 19-30 and caregivers.

Stanley Chitekwe, Chief of Nutrition, explaining the importance of nutrition education for adolescents says, “at UNICEF, we are committed to seeing a world where all children, adolescents and women realize their right to nutrition in order for us to break the international cycle of malnutrition and poor health. Ensuring adolescents benefit from diets, services and practices that support optimal nutrition, growth and development in Ethiopia is critical for achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 2, which is Zero Hunger by 2030”.

Initial assessment made before the campaign began on November 2020 indicates that almost all respondents (99 per cent) know about COVID-19 and prevention methods, but still regular hand washing (37per cent), and facemask wearing (40 per cent) are still low. While respondents are happy to go back to school, still significant number of adolescents (63per cent) have some concern and do not feel comfortable due to COVID-19. However, it is also more than half of the adolescents (55 per cent) assumed that eating processed snack foods is healthy. In order to prevent the double burden of malnutrition, which is characterized by coexistence of under nutrition (stunting and wasting) along with overnutrition (overweight and obesity), in Ethiopia, the Yegna campaign plays a vital role to change adolescent’s mindset.

A total of 20 mini-drama series, each one minute long, have been produced in Amharic, Afan Oromo and Tigrigna languages. Every week, each spot is being broadcasted on both national and regional TV and radio stations.

Since 15 December 2020, TV spots have been broadcasted through five TV stations and 4 radio stations. It lasts for 20 weeks from December 2020 to May 2021.

Various social media channels are also utilized, including Yegna YouTube channel, Telegram and UNICEF Ethiopia official Facebook page. Among the PSAs uploaded on Yegna YouTube for now, are have views ranging from 51,222 to 142,984. On the other hand, billboards with message about COVID-19 prevention, nutrition, menstrual health and hygiene have been placed in major cities of Ethiopia: Addis Ababa, Adama, Hawassa, Bahirdar.

“I totally agree, we should avoid sugary beverage and foods, it will affect our health,” shares a viewer of one of the PSA about healthy diet on Girl effect’s YouTube channel.

‘Thank you Dawit (a character on Nutrition spot) drinking enough water is good for our own health. I had bladder infection, and my doctor advised me to drink more water, since then I am taking enough water on daily bases’ adds another viewer shares on the comments section.

The project expects to improve the awareness and translating to action the recommended advices to reduce spread of COVID-19 infection and beyond including improving adolescent nutrition, management of menstrual health and hygiene, prevention of gender-based violence and improve adolescents’ mental health and their well beings.  UNICEF in collaboration with Girl effect will be assessing the media reach and impact of the campaign on adolescents in Ethiopia.

 For the baseline report, go to the link here.

To watch the TV spots or videos, go to the link here