By: Mayen Etim
KADUNA, North-West, Nigeria – The UN Children’s Fund, (UNICEF) says it will use theatre groups in all its community mobilizations in Kaduna, Niger and Nasarawa states in 2019 and beyond.
UNICEF’s Communication for Development Specialist, Kaduna Field Office, Mr George Eki disclosed in Zaria at the opening of a two-day refresher training for Train the Trainers on Theatre for Development.
Eki said that one of the main goals of Communication for Development (C4D) was to improve knowledge, attitude and practices of parents, households and communities on childcare development and protection.
He added that it was also expected to increase demand for services and improve service delivery by improving relationships between service providers and beneficiaries.
The C4D Specialist explained that facilitators were the drivers of C4D community mobilization over the years, but with much of the targeted groups paying little or no attention during community dialogue.
According to him, drama performance attracts attention and effectively passes the needed message to the targeted group.
“For example, when you engage a professor to talk to women about polio immunization in communities and he or she uses big English grammar to pass the message, most of the women or caregivers may not get the message.
“The facilitator will be talking, and people will be sleeping. In fact, some of them might even be left in a confused state.
“But when you use drama groups to do the same, using the local language to pass the message, the women will understand and immunization uptake will greatly improve.
“So, this time around, it is the drama group that will be doing the talking through drama performance, which will keep the people alert and pass the needed information and messages across,” he said.
The specialist said that drama groups would continue to be used in mobilizing community members to improve the uptake of health services, starting with the polio immunization campaign scheduled for April 13 to April 16.
Director, National Orientation Agency (NOA) in Kaduna State, Malam Galadima Soba, said that communities must be mobilized for positive change and “drama is key to achieving that.”
Soba urged the participants to remain committed in contributing their quota to national development through drama performances, designed to change the attitude and practices of parents, households and communities toward the well-being of the child.
The UNICEF Focal Person, NOA Kaduna, Malam Lawal Haruna, explained that the training was organised by NOA with support from UNICEF to update knowledge, review achievements and challenges.
Haruna said that the Agency planned to conduct community dialogue in 60 communities in Kaduna State, adding that effective drama groups would be used throughout the dialogue sessions.
UNICEF had in 2018 established more than 108 Theatre for Development (TfD) groups in the three states to mobilize and create behavioural change in communities for healthy development of children.
The theatre groups are already performing in several communities and breaking cultural barriers to child survival.