Impact of an SMS-Augmented Participatory Radio Campaign (PRC) in Atanga Sub-County of Northern Uganda

The Canada-Africa Partnership on AIDS Uganda (CAP-AIDS Uganda) partnered with the radio station Mega FM-Gulu (Atanga-Gulu) to pioneer an approach to behaviour change communication in the field of public health. Through a participatory communication model developed by Farm Radio International in the field of agricultural extension, CAP-AIDS conducted a research program to see whether or not the Participatory Radio Campaign (PRC) could improve the willingness of people in HIV-stricken communities to come forward for voluntary counselling and testing (VCT), despite powerful stigmas and cultural taboos.

The PRC is an approach to behaviour change communication that uses radio along with modern information and communication technologies (ICTs), and involves the beneficiaries of the campaigns in the planning and evaluation of the radio campaign. Farm Radio International has demonstrated significant increases in the uptake of various agricultural techniques through behaviour change communication. The research explored whether these successes could be matched in the fight to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS in Northern Uganda and also whether the additional use of SMS alerts could augment the impact of the campaign. The aim was to establish the extent to which the use of ICTs impacted the participatory radio strategies to encourage VCT-Health-Seeking-Behaviour within the highly vulnerable Acholi sub-region of Northern Uganda.

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