Using radio to combat the aftermaths of the Ebola crisis on children

Child to Child

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

At the start of 2014, Child to Child was working in the Kailahun district of Sierra Leone on a 5 year community-based Early Childhood Development project. By March, Ebola had struck the country: all public activities, bar church and mosque meetings, were outlawed, and Child to Child had to halt all activities.

The Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone orphaned 8000 children, resulting in many older children (mostly girls) having to take on a parental role, and consequently giving up their education.

Partly due to a rise in sexual violence and rape, and partly due to girls using transactional sex as a way of securing basic amenities, rates of teenage pregnancy rose by 400%. Though they could no longer run their original project due to the banning of public congregations, Child to Child came up with an innovative solution to continue their mission in Sierra Leone.

Funded by Comic Relief and partnering with an experienced radio production team, Child to Child launched Pikin to Pikin Tok (literally ‘child to child talk’ in Krio, the local language), a radio programme designed to enhance children’s social, academic and life skills. Children were trained as Young Journalists, directing Child to Child to the issues that mattered most to them and their community, and co-creating the radio programme.  

Using traditional stories and music, much of the content addressed health and hygiene, critical topics both during and after the Ebola outbreak. Tools such as simple songs were used to instruct on hand washing, and issues such as stigmatisation and exclusion as a result of Ebola, sexual violence, teenage pregnancy and gender inequality were addressed.

To ensure that as many children as possible could access the programmes, Child to Child distributed hundreds of solar powered, wind up radios.

Child to Child broadcast to 500,000 people in the area and directly engaged 10,000 children. They used an innovative solution to continue their work in an otherwise impossible situation, and were able to address critical issues which emerged as a result of the Ebola crisis.

What set this project apart is that the children in the Ebola-affected community were not seen as victims, but as agents of change. The project was identified as a model of good practice by the UN Girls Education Initiative.

Child to Child’s Pikin to Pikin Tok project was a finalist for the Bond Innovation Award 2017.