Nigeria Toolkit: Advocacy
What is it?
The media plays a significant role in influencing society’s way of thinking about various issues, including family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH). Media performs a strategic role in information dissemination in any given society. They determine what gets across to the public and regulate what issues should be regarded as important or otherwise by policymakers. The media can influence policymakers on issues related to maternal and child health and FP/RH, among others. It has great potential in promoting good sexual and reproductive health outcomes. It is the most influential and cost-effective communication channel for successfully reaching the vast public with information on government obligations and plans.
In the past few decades, the Nigeria media landscape has maintained a three-way stronghold of print, television and radio. But, in the recent times, more attention has started to be given to digital media, including social media. In this era of social media, information and communication and news generally have become more readily available and easier to interpret by the average citizen. As a result, media practitioners are using this platform to further engage policymakers in demanding accountability on their commitments.
Why is it important?
Media is a critical partner in facilitating an enabling policy environment for family planning (FP) and adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health (AYSRH). This approach is a guide to how TCI Nigeria provides technical support and coaching to media practitioners from public and private media organizations to acquire the necessary skills to promote and amplify FP and AYSRH information and services, using both traditional and digital media platforms.
The advocacy team of TCI Nigeria will continue to leverage media in canvasing for continuous funding and accountability, enabling policies and government and community commitment and action for FP and AYSRH.
To achieve this, TCI designed a five-step guide to engaging with the media to advocate for FP and AYSRH.
Step-by-Step Guide to TCI Nigeria Media Advocacy Intervention:
Step 1: Desk review of FP/RH media reporting and knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) survey of media practitioners on FP/RH
TCI with support from the Development Communications Network (DevComs) and some state media representatives mapped out and identified media outfits across TCI-supported states. A desk review was conducted on some selected media products in the supported states to measure the level of reporting and the technical know-how of the journalists on FP/RH issues. The review was done on electronic, print and social media to assess depth and quality of FP information reported and to serve as baseline data.
The desk review was follow by a KAP study, which was carried out using a structured questionnaire to assess the knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) of journalists, editors, reporters and bloggers related to family planning reporting. The questionnaire was also used to elicit information from respondents who comprised TV, radio, print, online, blogging and multimedia outlets.
Figure 1. Graphical representation of number of health and FP stories across TCI-sponsored states prior to training
Step 2: Capacity transfer and continuous mentoring of media practitioners on FP and AYSRH messaging and reporting
A three-day training on media advocacy for family planning was conducted to empower 125 media practitioners, social media influencers and information officers from relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) across TCI-supported states. This training was facilitated by DevComs in collaboration with TCI and state counterparts. The aim of the training was to (1) strengthen the ability of media practitioners in the states to effectively develop and disseminate accurate information on the benefit of family planning/child birth spacing to individuals, community and the state at large and (2) build the capacity of journalists, media reporters and producers to serve as FP media advocates in the geographies. The training was conducted using the Effective Reporting of Family Planning: A Training Manual for Media Practitioners developed by DEVCOMS with support from the Nigeria Urban Health Initiative (NURHI). TCI’s business unusual model and AYSRH were incorporated into the manual and training to ensure practitioners have a better understanding of the model and their role in promoting local ownership and accountability. A WhatsApp Group was developed for the trained media practitioners to facilitate continued experience sharing and routine coaching after the training.
Step 3: Conduct field/facility visit
The trained journalists and reporters conduct quarterly media trip to FP clinics and communities to produce compelling stories and report on FP/RH and AYSRH, interview FP users, providers and community members for testimonials. They cover state, national and international events related to FP/RH and AYSRH to facilitate reporting and discussion and work with the state’s Advocacy Working Groups, Interfaith Forums, Social and Behavioral Change Communication Committees, State Ministries of Health and State Primary Health Care Development Agencies to push for FP, creating an enabling environment for FP and drumming up demand for it. While developing these stories and reports, TCI continuously coaches the media with content to enhance quality of these reports and stories.
Step 4: Establish and strengthen state media structure through coaching
TCI support the trained media to form a platform, titled the media forum for ownership and sustainability. State media forum in collaboration with state MDAs, community structures and FP and AYSRH advocates facilitate major media activities, conduct media chats and host field visits to generate public discourse and engage policymakers and leaders on FP while reporting on FP/RH issues. These groups are encouraged to transform into independent entities, like a civil society organization, and generate resources and sustain their voice to other health program area related to women, children and adolescents.
Step 5: Tracking and documenting of FP/AYSRH stories and reports
A tool was developed to monitor media coverage in the states and motivate journalists to track their FP/AYSRH stories. Some states through the media forum give awards to the best FP/AYSRH report for the quarter. Both google alerts and the excel tracking tool are used to track FP/AYSRH-related media reports and stories across the state and country. Below is a chart showing published reports and stories from phase 1 states one month after the training.
Figure 2. Chart showing published FP stories after training
For continuous tracking of media reports, the media practitioners perform the following roles:
- Maintain an excel sheet to track media reports, publications and stories by the trained media practitioners
- Conduct routine monitoring of google alerts to track FP/AYSRH reports
- Number of media practitioners trained across the states
- Percentage of media houses programming/reporting on FP and AYSRH in TCI-sponsored states
- Number of FP and AYSRH documentaries, campaigns, public discussions on FP aired on national and state radio and television
- Improved capacity of journalists and social media bloggers on FP messaging, reporting, writing compelling FP stories and media discussions on FP and AYSRH through training and coaching
- Increased coverage/reporting of FP and AYSRH discourse by media outlets and visibility of FP and AYSRH in the media space using traditional and digital platforms
- Good understanding of identified media practitioners in private and government MDAs at the state and LGA level that can influence negative societal norms on FP in Nigeria using on-site visits and evidence to inform reporting and discourse
- Scaled up, sustained and institutionalized media advocacy campaign on FP and AYSRH in the states by establishing a state media forum and providing mentorship
- Tracked and documented media reports on FP and AYSRH and engaging with these reports to inform discussion
- Implemented periodic oversight support to ensure continuity and quality of the FP and AYSRH information disseminated by the media
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