Securing Free Media Time for Family Planning Messages in Plateau State, Nigeria
Contributor: Philemon Yohanna
One of Nigeria’s best-practice approaches for advocacy is to establish active and vibrant Interfaith Forums in states supported by The Challenge Initiative (TCI). TCI’s work with religious leaders has produced committed champions who not only serve as inspiring voices for childbirth spacing/family planning (CBS/FP) in the communities, but also ensure their congregations understand the benefits of CBS/FP and seek family planning services.
In December 2019, Plateau State’s Interfaith Forum and Advocacy Core Group (ACG) – also referred to as the Volunteers for Family Planning and Reproductive Health (V4FP&RH) – secured free airtime for CBS/FP messages and live phone-in programs on four radio stations in Jos, Plateau State. This success was due to coaching and mentoring support provided by TCI on the importance of spreading CBS/FP messages, the development of sustainable plans for engagement with influencers at all levels (public and private), and the willingness and readiness of the Interfaith Forum and ACG to sustain the cause.
The interfaith Forum and ACG will continue to seek sustainable platforms to amplify voices on CBS/FP to create an enabling environment that will lead to increase demand for and improved uptake of family planning, which will ultimately result in a healthier population.
“The need to amplify voices and ensure wide coverage beyond the enclaves of decorated FP or CBS champions to cover the state and beyond, while hinging on sustainability as explained by the TCI business unusual model, is what is spurning this change,” said Pastor Julius Arabo, co-chair of the Interfaith Forum.
Alh Umar Farouk, fellow co-chair of the Interfaith Forum and the secretary of JNI in the state, agreed with Pastor Arabo.
“With the technical assistance and logistic support received from TCI, the Interfaith Group and the ACG have been able to build relationships with media stations and secure free airtime while being allowed to propose topics and bring resource persons for live phone-in programs,” Farouk said.
The positive reception from listeners and continued advocacy from TCI led radio stations in Plateau State to demonstrate their commitment further by airing CBS/FP programs at no cost. As a result, the Interfaith Forum and ACG entered into formal partnerships with a number of the media houses. Because these partnerships have minimal costs, they exemplify a sustainable strategy for continuing to disseminate CBS/FP messages once the state’s involvement with TCI ends.