Scaling effective solutions

A mass media campaign was scaled up nationally.

An IPA research team found that an intensive radio campaign focused on promoting modern contraception increase contraception use by 18 percent in Burkina Faso. In response to initial findings, Development Media International, the implementing partner, decided to scale up the mass media campaign nationally in January 2019. As of September 2019, the campaign was broadcast on 38 radio stations, in 10 local languages, reaching an estimated 11.2 million people across Burkina Faso. Researchers estimate that the national implementation has led to 240,000 additional women using modern contraception in Burkina Faso.

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Credit: Development Media International

 

The Challenge 

High fertility rates and short spacing between births are both associated with poor health outcomes for women. While many women report a that they would like to have greater control over the number and timing of births, they are not using contraception. According to the World Health Organization, the main barriers to contraceptive uptake in Sub-Saharan Africa are a lack of information and fear about contraceptives, rather than access to contraception.[1]

Mass media campaigns have potential to provide useful information on the benefits and logistics of family planning and influence social norms around such contentious topics at low cost. However, mass media campaigns are also hard to evaluate given the difficulty in finding good comparison groups when national media is typically the most powerful channel. As a result, limited evidence exists on their effectiveness in changing attitudes and behavior.

The Evidence 

IPA partnered with researchers (Rachel Glennerster, Victor Pouliquen, and Joanna Murray) and Development Media International to evaluate the impact and cost-effectiveness of an intensive radio campaign focused on promoting modern contraception in Burkina Faso. The 2.5-year campaign, which ran from June 2016 to December 2018, consisted of 1-minute and 30-second radio spots broadcast 10 times a day every day and three two-hour interactive phone-in radio shows every week, in six local languages.

Researchers selected sixteen community radio stations—collectively reaching over 5 million people—that had minimal overlap in coverage area and broadcast in different languages. Of these sixteen radio stations, half were randomly selected to receive the media campaign. The other half served as a comparison group and did not receive the campaign during the study period.

The evaluation found that the campaign led to a 5.3 percentage point increase in the modern contraceptive prevalence rate (mCPR). Effects appear to be driven by more accurate information on contraception and better attitudes toward family planning. The annual cost per additional woman using modern contraception during the pilot study was US$49. Researchers estimate that 33,000 additional women are using modern contraception because of the pilot program.

The Impact 

In response to initial findings, Development Media International decided to scale up the mass media campaign nationally in January 2019.  As of September 2019, the campaign was broadcast on 38 radio stations, in 10 local languages, reaching an estimated 11.2 million people across Burkina Faso. Researchers estimate that national implementation translates to 240,000 additional women using modern contraception in Burkina Faso.[2] Implementing the program at scale is also more cost-effective: the scaled-up program costs $6.5 per additional woman using modern contraception annually.

Sources

[1] Cleland G.C., Ndugwa, R., Zulu, E. M., 2011. “Family Planning in sub-Saharan Africa: progress or stagnation?”. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 89:137-143.

[2] Glennerster, Murray, and Pouliquen (2019) p. 3