Ouro Negro (Black Gold)

Tradition and modernity, forced to team up to discover new truths. Black Gold is the story of the village of Jambolane, a traditional community in Mozambique. When the residents of Jambolane are confronted with the arrival of a foreign mining company they must negotiate the resettlement of the community and their ancestral spirits in order to extract coal from their land.

The Ouro Negro setting, or world of the stories, allows for tailoring to diverse target audiences, including rural and urban residents, adults and adolescents. Four different story arcs are used to communicate key messages across target audiences and health issues. The different worlds of stories are connected and talk to each other. Each can address defined topics for specific audiences. The different arcs include:

1. Jambo and Almeida: Jambo is the traditional leader of Jambolane, an African traditional community confronted with the arrival of a foreign mining company. The mining company is led by Almeida. The major story arc focuses on the clash of the two worlds, the industrialized world with economic interests and the rural life with different values. This story arc targets urban and rural audiences.
2. Jambolane: The community of Jambolane focuses on stories from the Jambo family and targets rural audiences.
3. Daraja: The provincial city focuses on stories from the Almeida family and targets urban audiences.
4. Quim and Lura: Quim is the son of Jambo and an ambitious soccer player. Lura is Almeida’s daughter. The “Juliet & Romeo” story arc targets adolescents.
Ouro Negro themes and key messages for each season are defined in collaboration with partners. Messages are embedded on three levels:
1. Story-level: The story is the message and is communicated by the protagonist’s inner motivation for change and the learning experienced as a result of certain actions.
2. Scene-level: Each scene has one or more “beats”, a term the scriptwriters use to refer to an event or information that changes the (emotional) state of the character(s), causing him to rethink his/her choices and next actions.
3. Dialogue-level: The dialogue includes critical technical (instructional) information and is incorporated in teachable moments in the story.

Ouro Negro (Black Gold) is the flagship program for UNICEF’s Facts for Life (FFL) initiative in Mozambique and is implemented with the partner organizations Radio Mozambique, World Food Programme (WFP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and PCI Media. The aim of this initiative is to improve the health and wellbeing of children and adolescents by shifting knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors through the creation of dialogue. Ouro Negro links the inner motivations of target audiences with desired behaviors around key health and education issues including breastfeeding, girls’ primary education, antenatal care, institutional delivery, nutrition, WASH, child protection and HIV prevention.

The entertainment-education serial drama Ouro Negro broadcasts 4 nights per week in primetime slots free of charge, through partnerships with over 70 radio stations and draws a listenership of approximately 1.5 million people per show. On August 24, 2016, Ouro Negro aired its 100th radio episode, earning it the distinction of being Mozambique’s longest-running series. Season 4 (totaling to 168 episodes) is currently on air, while Season 5 is in production and Season 6 is in the writing stage. The key target audience is women aged 15-35, and the secondary audiences are frontline public servants and caregivers.

Creating realistic characters and stories ensures that people relate to the drama, a critical foundation for stirring debate. By engaging with the stories and feeling the emotions a character feels, the target audience can identify with the characters, understand the value of a promoted action and change its own behaviors. The target audience witnesses the consequences, good and bad, experienced by a character based on his/her choices and is left with the question if that is the way he/she wants to live. As one of the actors from the radio drama shared:
“And they [audience] feel represented in that. It was alive and the people feel that they were represented in that drama. They see all kind of characters… The community says, this is our story. We feel inside of that story… These stories touch the souls [and] hearts of the people. It [creates] emotions [and] if emotion grows in people, they’ll open [their] mind.”

Ouro Negro is designed to use a range of communication products and distribution channels to reach target audiences in multiple ways and with varying frequency and intensity. What started as a national radio Entertainment-Education drama is being transformed into a multi-media communication program. By expanding the world of Ouro Negro to different platforms, the partners are able to reinforce key messages among the target audiences and include communities not yet reached by the radio drama. To date, we have implemented local community theater productions performed in local languages, social media outreach and call-in shows featuring meaningful discussions. Future program outputs include PSAs, music, cartoons and, TV broadcasts.

Radio Mozambique

For the formal evaluation of Ouro Negro, UNICEF Mozambique contracted the local research partner Gfk Intercampus, and Drexel University in collaboration with the renowned Communications for Development M/E expert, Dr. Suruchi Sood. This is an in-depth qualitative and quantitative analysis designed to understand if the program was effective and if there were any behavioral or social changes as a result. Prior to the launch, 2,250 women were interviewed for the quantitative research and approximately 300 men and women over 15 years old were interviewed for the qualitative research.
The analysis of ongoing M&E activities indicates Ouro Negro gained a loyal audience. Every episode broadcast generated 1.2-1.4 million listeners, approximately 25-30% of all Mozambican radio listeners. 50% of listeners follow the drama regularly and 56% of the respondents reported strongly liking Ouro Negro. 43% of respondents discussed the drama with other people, 67% of those respondents discussed the topics Ouro Negro covered. These statistics prove Ouro Negro stimulates interpersonal communication that is crucial for promoted behavior changes with 70% of respondents reporting behavior change. Most behavior change was shown to be in the following categories: general behavior change, improved social behavior, disease prevention in HIV/AIDS, child protection and health, nutrition, and WASH.

Ouro Negro aims to go from reaching an audience of one million in year one, to two million by year four of production. Such an ambitious goal is possible because of the drama’s popularity, and the ability to reach audiences through multiple sources. The drama itself uses likeable characters that form bonds with audience members. Audiences and characters share life experiences and learn together about solutions to the broad scope of issues discussed. The popular call-in shows facilitate active dialogue to share and debate experiences thus encouraging community bonds.

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