(Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone)

In the forest community of Faso, we meet a young woman named Lucy who is forced to marry an older man she does not love and finds filthy. Lucy’s hand in marriage is given by her corrupted father and leader of Faso, Fallo, and her stepmother, Isatu, in exchange for forest land that will be razed and converted to a palm plantation. Lucy is exposed to unhygienic living conditions in her home with her new husband and is beaten for suggesting a more sanitary lifestyle.

Her mother, Mama Klean, is deeply concerned for her daughter’s well-being – Lucy is her only living child since her other four children died in senseless war and from exposure to unsanitary conditions. Mama Klean has since devoted her life to raising awareness about WASH issues and promoting hygienic practices in order to save children from contracting preventable diseases. She tries desperately to help Lucy and confronts Fallo, but her husband and Isatu dismiss Mama Klean as well as her concerns about sanitation.

Isatu and Fallo’s greed continues to interfere with others’ lives, including Usman, a young farmer whose land is taken away by his uncle Juma and given to Fallo and Isatu. He fights to regain his land and plots revenge against his uncle. His life is changed by one young woman, Isatu’s niece Fatmata, who has been promised in marriage to Usman’s uncle, Juma. Fatmata teaches Usman how to use the land he has more sustainably and encourages him to adopt alternative livelihoods.

We will follow these characters’ journeys to develop their sense of self, determine their own fate, and help their community band together to change, become stewards of their forest, and create healthier and more sustainable futures for themselves and their children.

The Upper Guinean Tropical Forest ecosystem is one of West Africa’s eight major biomes. It has an estimated 9,000 species of vascular plants. Of these, 2,250 (25%) are believed to be endemic (only found in West Africa). The ecosystem ranks high globally for both plant species diversity and endemism. However, this forest is highly degraded, having experienced dramatic encroachment from expanding human activities and fragmentation that has reduced the forest to approximately 10% of its original 1,265,000-km² area. What forest remains is severely threatened by continued use of unsustainable land use practices, mining and other threats.

For the past three and a half years (2012 – 2015), PCI Media Impact has been providing the overall communications capability for USAID’s and US Forestry Service/International Program’s $18 million regional program, STEWARD: Sustainable and Thriving Environments for West African Regional Development. The overall goal of the STEWARD program is to promote transboundary landscape-scale strategies for, and promising approaches to, sustainable natural resource management, improved livelihoods, biodiversity conservation, and climate change adaptation and mitigation in priority zones in the Upper Guinean Forest ecosystem.

The STEWARD  priority zones are;  1) Sierra Leone (Outamba-Kilimi National Park) / Guinea (Madina Oula, Soya and Ouré Kaba sub prefectures and 2) Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire (Mount Nimba) / Liberia (East Nimba Nature Reserve) and 3) (potentially) Ziama – Wonegisi straddling the border between Guinea and Liberia.

PCI Media Impact brings its My Community methodology to a comprehensive Communications for Behavior Change Campaign across the region, while also providing overall communications leadership on behalf of the entire STEWARD Program.

The STEWARD Communications Program:

  • Creates and mobilizes local and transboundary coalitions, and builds capacity to address biodiversity conservation and climate change adaptation issues.
  • Promotes knowledge, attitude and behavior change through a 52-episode (two seasons of 26 episodes) regionally produced, Entertainment-Education Serial Radio Drama, in both English and French, which will be broadcast across Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, and Liberia (with adaptations in 3 indigenous languages).
  • Promotes interactive engagement with local populations through complementary Interactive Radio Magazine/Call-In Shows that support each episode of the drama. These shows are broadcast locally in local languages, and  ‘turn up the volume’ on the issues, generating inter-personal communication amongst target audiences, allowing them to first consider and then validate the desired behavior changes.
  • Mobilizes local communities to take action through 6 Community Mobilization Campaigns, using social marketing methods and tools that complement the agenda and issues being promoted on the radio.
  • Raises awareness of STEWARD and STEWARD-funded/supported objectives, the STEWARD brand, activities and outcomes, and helps to build a community of supportive policymakers and key constituents.

The STEWARD Communications Program aims to positively change behaviors and shift social norms with regard to biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation, and natural resource management (NRM), and increase the branding, policy-level, and general support for the STEWARD program and its conservation goals.

The campaign will create a common social narrative that changes the way people think and act, reducing vulnerability to climate change and enhancing climate-resilient systems and services across the Upper Guinean Forest Ecosystem by increasing the resilience of social and natural systems, and enhancing key stakeholder support.

United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
United States Forest Service/International Programs (USFS/IP)
AUDER (United Actors for Rural Development)
Fauna and Flora International (FFI)
Thomson Reuters

The STEWARD Communications Program is designed to promote behavior changes within intervention communities to reduce vulnerability to climate change, foster greater protection for biodiversity and natural resource management, improve access to potable water, and improve hygienic systems and behaviors. The program aims to increase the resilience of both landscapes and populations to climate change, and directly increase the use of best practices and reduce the use of exploitative behaviors that degrade land and water resources. The program will achieve this by promoting expanded awareness in households, community institutions, local government agencies and businesses, and altering attitudes and values towards the crucial importance of water management and protecting the environment through sustainable livelihoods and practices.

Through its capacity-building activities and the development of local and national coalitions, The STEWARD Communications Program will increase technical capacity and strengthen networks and partnerships, which in turn will increase the local, on-the-ground, expertise and resilience of communities to address issues in the long-term.

The M&E strategy is based upon building a team-based learning process where design, planning, action, and reflection are linked cycles that generate useful information for accountability, team learning, and the shifting context within each community. One element of the program’s design is self-monitoring and self-evaluation by the change-makers in real-time and post-program.

The strategy includes pre- and post-surveys of audience members, focus groups, and case studies on all three components (capacity, community, and change). Specific indicators of how much the program impacted audience members will be developed with the coalitions. These indicators will investigate people’s knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors about biodiversity conservation and climate change, appreciation of the region’s natural resources, and alternative livelihoods.

Knowledge, attitude, and behavior change survey (baselines and post) results will be complemented by information gleaned from focus groups in all communities. As part of our formative research, an array of qualitative and quantitative data is collected and analyzed, including focus groups, interviews, surveys, and input from coalition partners.


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