Influence of radio broadcast messages on family planning attitude of couples

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This study is on the research of “The Influence of Radio messages on Family Planning Attitudes towards Couples in Uyo metropolis” it strives to achieve the following objectives; To identify radio broadcast messages on family planning in Uyo. To identify couples’ awareness of radio broadcast messages on family planning in Uyo metropolis. To examine the knowledge of family planning among couples in Uyo metropolis. To verify the extent which couples have considered and practiced family planning methods in a positive or negative way following exposure to these messages. To find out other influences on family planning among couples in Uyo metropolis. Survey method was utilized and simple random sampling was the method involved in collecting data. From the result given couples are aware and have knowledge of the messages of family planning. Although, they were also influences after few observed challenges and factors affecting embracing and adopting the family planning. In all, the couples do agree that radio is the best option in addressing family planning methods and techniques to reach a large audience. Various recommendations were give, from more contents, to the support of the Ministry of Health and embarking on rural settlements in creating family planning awareness.




1.1. Background

Family planning communication is an aspect of information, education and communication, and behaviour change communication. Nigeria, just like other countries in sub- Sahara Africa has the highest birth rates in the world. The major factor underlying high birth rates is low family planning use. Rhonda et al (2009), states that an estimated 35 million women in sub- Sahara Africa have an unmet need for family planning- they want to delay or stop child bearing but are not using any contraceptive method. In Nigeria alone, the number of un-intended pregnancies is estimated at 1 million per year, large number of which occur in the rural parts of Nigeria, (NCAPD, 2010).

Perdita (1976) in her book, "Messages from the village" summarizes the burden to rural women with poorly planned families in the following: on the small roads leading to market, one meets the typical Nigerian woman. She is tall and handsome. She carries a baby on her back while balancing an enormous market basket of vegetables on her head. He eyes are lowered to watch her hands weaving another basket she hopes to sell when she reaches the market. It will help pay the school fees of that 7 year old that is walking behind her. Never in Nigeria did I observe a rural woman at rest. She is always busy, always at work" (Perdita, 1976:68)

This paragraph captures the mood and situation for women in the rural Nigeria in early 1980s. It depicts a rural woman as one who is over burdened and in most cases left with responsibility of providing for her children, who are usually many in number.


Family planning is not largely an urban woman problem, perhaps partly because of high levels of awareness and exposure. The Nigeria Health and Demographic Survey 2008-2009 (NDSH), indicate that the rural birth rate is 5.2 way above the urban birth rate of 2.7 births per woman. Cultural challenges are less for urban women than for rural community women. As a result, many births in the rural setup are unintended or arrive too soon or there is little consultation between couples on when to give birth to the next child. I believe, if all women were able to meet their reproductive desires, fertility would decline and births would be spaced at longer intervals benefiting both the mother and child.

For Nigeria to achieve vision 2030, population should remain competitive both in terms of employment and resources available. This would be as a result of lower fertility and a lower rate of population growth. The Kisii community is one of those that are rapidly growing. The national census report of 2010 ranks the Kisii as the sixth largest tribe in Nigeria. It's widely believed among the Kisii community that a boy child is more important for any family than a girl child. This tends to exert pressure on women who have girls as first born to continue giving birth with hope of giving birth to a boy child. This in turn leads to high birth rate and more children in a family.

According to the NDSH (2009), the ratio of women that live in rural Nigeria to the ones in urban is 2:1. This then means that there are more women faced with the challenge of family planning in the rural than for urban community. This study therefore sought to investigate women's perceptions and attitudes on use of radio for family planning in rural areas in an attempt to address the higher population growth in rural areas.The NDSH (2009), report also reveals one striking characteristic which is that a majority of women lie in age group 20-24, which is defined as significant to population and birth rate.


In Kisii region as a whole there are several radio stations that are transmitting on various frequencies, namely: radio Jambo (89.3), Kisima fm (89.7), radio Citizen (90.2), Egesa fm (94.6), Q fm (96.1), radio Ramogi (98.6), Kass fm (99.3), Sayare (102.9), KBC Swahili (103.3) and radio Citizen (106.6). (CCK 2011).

These radio stations are mainly national and local vernacular radio stations in Kisii County. They are very interactive and most accessible compared to other media. Radio is portable, and listeners can use in matatus, while in the farms and work places. The behavior of radio listeners is that they change from one channel to another in pursuit of their desired programs.

It is with this rich availability of radio frequencies that I sought to find out to what extent has radio been used in family planning communication in rural Nigeria particularly Kisii county.

In a study conducted in Nigeria, Westoff et al, (1995), discusses the contraceptive behavior and reproductive preferences of mass media messages that try to inform and motivate people on methods and advantages of regulating fertility. The messages take many forms, ranging from soap opera on radio and television designed to persuade women on smaller families and advertisements on methods or availability. Westoff et al (1995), asserts that application of mass communication to influence fertility is a natural extension of the basic idea that media can both inform and motivate people.Other studies on causal - effect relationship are demonstrated by a study of Mexico village (1978), where exposure to print media and radio resulted in positive effects on practice of family planning.

Westoff et al (1995), reveals that Nigerian birth rate was 6.7 births per woman by early 1990s. Therefore, the question whether women respondents had heard, read or seen messages about family planning on radio ,in newspapers, magazines or on posters or on television had a lot of relevance towards use of radio in family planning. The result showed that although radio was the most important vehicle in Nigeria for communicating about family planning at that time, there were also other popular television soap opera that emphasized the problems of early pregnancies. One of the radio programs that included such soap opera was aired twice weekly and listened by over 39% of the country. This program was subsequently evaluated in interviews with rural and lower -social economic status women in effort to gauge audience reaction.

The program was rated a success because nearly one half of the respondents claimed to have acquired their initial knowledge of family planning through media. One issue that probably led to low birth rate was due to multiple employments of media in informing and motivating people on family planning, especially as was the case in Tanzania (Jato et al 1999).

This project sought to investigate whether use of radio in Kisii can, not only inform or motivate women to practice family planning but also how program communicators can use radio effectively to improve attitude on contraception and family planning.

The report from this project can therefore be used to improve information, education, and communication around family planning and advocacy strategies aimed at behavior change by effective use of radio.

1.2. Problem Statement

The Nigeria Service Provision Assessment report, (2010), states that there is a high "unmet need" for family planning (FP) services to women in Nigeria. In early 1970s Nigeria was an early leader


Sub Saharan countries to officially adopt family planning, with comprehensive communication programs that reached all communities. Together with strong political leadership backing the initiative, 1960's to 1990's the average number of births per woman dropped from about 8 in late 1970's to about 5 per woman in mid 1990's. It is believed that during that time, radio and other mass media were widely used in increasing information about family planning, (Westoff et al,


However, fertility level remained almost the same up to 1998 at 4.7 and currently (2008) 4.6 births per woman (NCAPD, 2010).This is probably due to lack of effective use of radio as mass media for promoting reproductive health services in the country, (Jato, 1999), especially in the rural parts where radio is more accessible than other media like television or newspapers. As a result, the health and demographic survey, 2008-2009, indicates that the rural birth rate is 5.2 way above the urban birth rate of 2.7 births per woman.

Whereas other studies have shown positive effect of multiple media on family planning, (Jato et al 1999, Westoff et al 1995),little data is available on radio alone even if radio has been shown to enjoy massive audience among rural women,(Gupta et al 2003).

This study therefore sought to investigate whether effective use of radio programs and message positioning can help inform, motivate and improve contraceptive uptake by women in the Kisii County in rural Nigeria.

13. Justification of Research Project

According to the National coordinating Agency for population and Development (NCAPD,

2010:3-4), the size of Nigeria's population will be largely determined by future fertility levels. "If fertility remains high, or falling shortly from current level of 4.6 million per woman to 4 children per woman, Nigeria's population would grow from 38 million in 2008 to 82 million in 2040- a doubling in just 32 years." The report reveals that despite deaths from HIV/ AIDs, population continues to grow because of the large number of people who are already parents or are about to enter their child bearing years. This will mean that if nothing is done, then national resources may not be enough to provide for the population. This in turn is likely to cause human problems including poverty, poor health and non employment, to mention but a few.

Large family sizes would mean that most homes will not be able to provide for their children.

Many children will be faced with starvation, lack of enough clothing and even parental attention will be minimal. Many would drop from school and end up being undisciplined and even engage in early pregnancies (girls) in the process leading to high population growth. The Nigerian government may find it difficult to provide for its citizens and the living standards would decline. It may find it difficult to keep law and order especially if it cannot provide basic necessities such as food.

In Nigeria currently, there are major efforts directed towards the implementation of the new constitution which provides for the creation of county governments. This also means that development programs are to be undertaken by the new county governments. Because this will mean localized units of governance, it will be prudent to use radio more effectively in family planning communication. The radio as a medium will be most appropriate because some radio stations and programs are run in local vernacular languages, Oriare and Ugangu (2010), its wide reach and accessibility ( Westoff et al 1995; Jato et al 1999).

It is encouraging to note that members of parliament have identified high population growth rate as a danger to our economic development. During the recent official consultative meeting in Mombasa, the members of parliament agreed and offered to help curb the high birth rate. (KBC news 22/07/2011,9pm/

However, the bodies charged with responsibilities of ensuring that there is maximum advocacy on FP appear to have little or no material on use of radio and indeed the mainstream media for promotion and advocacy of family planning services to the women who need these services. For instance, family health international, Nigeria, has publications on training and the available modern family planning methods but no documentary is on radio targeted to women in general.

NCPD through, its department for communication and education they have developed advocacy kits for county leaders and religious leaders -"healthy families for a prosperous Nigeria", but little effort is being made to use radio for the dissemination of such important information to public. It is worth to note that the NCAPD is the body mandated to develop population growth policies in Nigeria.

Lastly, the reproductive health division of Ministry of Health and Sanitation has a strategic plan for family planning services in Nigeria but much is on methods and their advantages and disadvantages. In it no indication has been made on use of particularly radio for education and behavior change despite it having many advantages for accessibility and portability.

Westoff et al (1995) observed that many Nigerians listen to radio than read the newspaper or watch television which has since improved to 86.4% as indicated in media council of Nigeria report (2005). A total of 68% of married Nigerian women (Westoff et al 1995), reported that they listen to radio at least once a week compared to other forms of media.This clearly showed that radio is important in family planning communication.

Benefits of radio broadcasting are many; it gives people a sense of the world they live in. They use radio to get information and news on what is happening within their locality and country or world, to some, radio is a comparison by providing different forms of entertainment and interactive sessions for request or topical discussions.

This project therefore sought to investigate whether effective use of radio in family planning communication in many programs can influence uptake of family planning services.

1.4. General objective

To find out the perceptions and attitudes of women on use of radio for family planning communication in rural Nigeria

1.4.1 Specific objective

  1. To investigate whether use of radio in family planning communication can influence uptake of family planning services by women in rural areas.
  2. To find out to what extent radio is used as a medium for communicating family planning in rural Nigeria.
  3. To propose recommendations to policy makers and program managers on use of radio in family planning communication.

1.4.2 Research questions

  1. To what extent is radio a preferred medium for communicating family planning in



  1. Can women in the rural areas be influenced by radio messages in choosing a contraceptive method?
  2. What are the perceptions and attitudes of women on use of radio as a medium for FP


1.5. Hypothesis

Use of radio in family planning communication can influence uptake of family planning services by women in rural areas


Influence of radio broadcast messages on family planning attitude of couples

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