Small-scale farmers in Nigeria, particularly female farmers, are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. In 2007, a project was initiated by the African Radio Drama Association (ARDA) in partnership with Farm Radio International and the University of Guelph with support from the Climate Change Adaptation in Africa Program supported by IDRC and the Department for International Development (U.K.). The project developed a special radio drama aimed at raising awareness and providing information to small-scale farmers in northern Nigeria about climate change adaptation. The 26-episode drama started airing weekly on several radio stations in April 2010 and broadcast to an estimated 20 million listeners in four northern Nigerian states targeted by the project – Borno, Kano, Kaduna, and Katsina.
Using the “edutainment” approach of combining entertainment with educational messages about climate change adaptation, the radio drama features Ribadu, a Fulani herdsman who weaves an intriguing storyline based on the lives of ordinary women and men who seek to balance life with livelihood amidst unpredictable weather patterns. The program was produced in two languages, Hausa and Fulfulde, and aired by nine radio stations with two additional stations expressing their interest in carrying the program for free. The storyline features numerous farming improvements such as rainwater harvesting, preventing soil erosion and managing crop pests and diseases. Each episode highlights the ways in which northern Nigerian farmers develop coping strategies to adapt to and mitigate the impact of climate change on their livelihoods.
The project was a complex undertaking with dramatic events behind the production scene itself. Tragically, over the course of the project, ARDA faced the deaths of a wonderful scriptwriter and a supportive broadcaster. There were delays caused by painstaking adjustments of the technical content to fit local farming conditions and to ensure that the uncertainty of climatic variability in northern Nigeria was taken into account. As well, the project involved an iterative process of data collection and analysis to inform pre-broadcast (baseline) and ex-poste (end-line) surveys of 3,000 farmers.
As the Hausa proverb, “In Kidi ya Chanza”, that gave this radio drama its name suggests: “when the drumbeats change, the dancers have to change their steps.”
Just how effective can a radio drama be in educating farmers to help them adapt to climate change?
• The evaluation work of the radio drama found that:
• 78% of respondents were familiar with the radio drama
• 84% of female and 68% of male listeners stated the program increased their awareness of climate change adaptation
• The vast majority (92.8%!) of respondents who gained awareness from the program reported that they took action
Radio Listening Clubs reinforced listener engagement with the storylines, ensuring that each episode was eagerly awaited. The evaluation found that the groups also encouraged individual farmers to take action on their farms to mitigate the effects of climate change.
TO READ the full script of the drama, click here.
By Dr. Helen Hambly Odame, University of Guelph
Farm Radio International Board member
Farm Radio International wishes to express its sincere thanks to ARDA and its partners for the opportunity to work together on such an innovative project.