Florence knows something is wrong with her children. They are chronically ill, have bad skin, suffer from diarrhea and have persistent coughs. But then she learns many of these problems can be reduced through diet—by farming and eating a vitamin A-rich tuber—the orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP). Florence is the fictional heroine that starred in Farm Radio International’s mini drama radio series, My Children. But the story of this Ugandan mother and farmer is very real for many families in sub-Saharan Africa.
The World Health Organization estimates that 250 million preschool children are vitamin A deficient. Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children and may increase the risk of maternal mortality in pregnant women.
The HarvestPlus-funded mini-drama was designed for maximum impact. Our team conducted rapid formative research in 13 districts to understand current radio listening habits and preferences and to seek out content and topics important to farmers.
The 30-episode radio drama was aired in six languages by ten partner radio stations in Uganda. FRI collaborated with Trac FM who facilitated one SMS poll question per episode, allowing for interaction with the audience, monitoring of responses and mapping of the audience. Poll results were also discussed on air, enriching the drama and clarifying the key messages. Check out some of the live polling results that were gathered using the TracFM system.
The project succeeded in reaching 350,000 households in 13 districts, who had access to the mini-series. Evaluations revealed that farmers gained knowledge on the nutrition content of OFSP and its use, and on vitamin A and the effects of vitamin A deficiency. This led to a positive change in attitude to OFSP, and as a result, vines are now moving around Uganda and begin shared by farmers. Following the success of the series, Harvest Plus commissioned a second season of the My Children drama. Working with Trac FM again, a second season began to air on 11 stations in Uganda in January 2016.