Using Edutainment to Disseminate SRHR Information
Theatre for community action is a proven effective educational method for sharing essential and sometimes life-saving information on sexual and reproductive health. Action 4 Health Uganda under the Team Up Program supports community youth clubs to use Theatre 4 Development (T4D) to educate people about where they can access services like HIV Counselling and Testing, and contraceptives. Through MDD, Nsiisi Youth Drama Group creates community conversations, and shift attitudes related to the stigma surrounding youth sexuality and farming. The group combines entertainment, education and referral to enhance access to critical services for prevention of HIV, SGBV, and unplanned pregnancies. The approach also leads to adoption of healthier behaviours.
“We do dancing, singing, poetry and comedy to inform young people that they can obtain confidential reproductive health services by visiting Health Facilities and “youth-friendly corners,” Nakyejjwe Zaituni, 20, Chairperson, Nsiisi Youth Drama Group.
Performances like these are effective because they strategically integrate reproductive health information into stigmatized, mythical or taboo topics. Such high-energy, engaging art forms appeal to young people. To ensure message retention, Zaitun notes that community mobilisation to attend drama performances has to be regular. “Drama pulls crowds and people keep coming back to hear our messages”
According to Edmond Batema, a Sexual and Reproductive Health Officer at A4HU, this is a new way of doing things, otherwise if you just walked into a community and you started telling them about youth sexuality, you wouldn’t be welcomed. He explains that theatre makes communities very receptive to information. Sometimes, the crowd doesn’t notice that you have started providing reproductive health information.
For purposes of being mindful of cultural taboos and stigma surrounding sexuality, performances often start with less controversial reproductive health topics, and then move to addressing those that are considered sensitive. Performances allow for interaction with the audiences in a way that enhances participation, responsiveness and feedback. This same approach has been adopted for in-school interventions for promotion of sexual and reproductive health and menstrual hygiene. At the end of every performance, and announcement is made regarding the presence, and availability of Peer Educators and Youth Champions to address any SRHR questions arising. This follow up engagement may happen at the event, or later at times when young people are comfortable having the discussions.