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 Saturday 07 February 2009
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ETHIOPIA: New 'reality radio' show reaches out to youth

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons
The show hopes to overcome the Ethiopian culture of silence on all things sexual
ADDIS ABABA, 4 February 2009 (PlusNews) - Yehualshet Getu, 22, excitedly freshens up and changes his clothes: today is a big day. "I have a first date with a girl I've known for a long time at school," he tells his best friend. "After I talk to her for a while I will kiss her."

His date, Elizabeth Denberu, 20, is just as excited, trying to decide which dress to wear on her big night out: "I am eager to listen to what he will say to me," she says to her best friend. "Today we will talk and laugh, but I do not want to do anything after that."

The conversations, and later the date itself, are recorded and broadcast every week on a local Ethiopian radio station, Sheger FM, in a new 30-minute youth-focused radio show, Dagu Addis.

On their date, Yehualshet and Elizabeth flirt but eventually disagree on one point - whether or not they should kiss at the end of the evening. Elizabeth flatly refuses and walks out on him.

The point is to encourage young people to discuss issues related to sexuality, reproductive health, peer pressure and HIV/AIDS in a culture where talking about such matters is usually taboo.

"Our main target group is youngsters aged between 15 and 20," said Liqu Teshome, a behaviour change communication officer at the AIDS Resource Centre, a local NGO. "This group falls into the classification of the most at-risk population for HIV/AIDS."

According to a report by the Federal HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office released in March 2008, young people, especially unmarried sexually active females, run the greatest risk of HIV infection in Ethiopia.

''Young people hear most things from their friends and what they hear might not be true''
The study also found that among people aged 15 to 24, only one in three young men and one in five young women had a comprehensive knowledge of the pandemic. "There should be a quality message delivered to this group. The main aim of our radio programme is to delay their sexual debut," Liqu said.

"In our culture there is not much free discussion in the family," said Gashaw Mengistu, coordinator of the AIDS Resource Centre. "They [young people] hear most things from their friends [and] what they hear might not be true; if we tell them at this age, they will not make such mistakes."

A 2005 National Demographic Health Survey found that 16 percent of young women and 2 percent of young men were sexually active by the age of 15.

A platform to speak freely

To grab young people's attention and keep the show interesting, the producers use a mix of reality radio, listeners' group discussions, personal narratives and games.

Abraham Gizaw, in his early twenties, is an avid listener who has also participated in the discussions: he told IRIN/PlusNews that the show's unique format kept young people tuning in.

"Its free discussion with youngsters differentiates it from other radio shows," he said. "This [show] gives ample space to youngsters to talk freely about their friends, sexual and love relationships."

"There is nothing that won't be talked about on Dagu Addis," said Fasil Gebreyohannes, the show's producer. "If we work hard and continue to do so, it will have a big impact."

Sheger FM broadcasts in Addis Ababa, the capital, and to the surrounding areas, reaching an overall audience of about five million people.


Theme(s): (PLUSNEWS) HIV/AIDS (PlusNews), (PLUSNEWS) Media - PlusNews, (PLUSNEWS) Prevention - PlusNews


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
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