Projects Urunana Development Communication (Urunana DC)

1. Project title: INGOBYI ACTIVITY (Intrahealth International)

The Ingobyi Activity is a five-year cooperative agreement to improve the quality of reproductive, Maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) and malaria services, in a sustainable manner with the goal of reducing infant and maternal mortality in Rwanda. The Ingobyi Activity will build upon the tremendous gains Rwanda has made in the health sector as well as previous USAID investments in the health sector. This project is implemented in 20 out of 30 districts in Rwanda, in partnership with IntraHealth International (lead organization) and other consortium members. Urunana DC implements nationally, part of the communication component of the project.

Urunana DC is one of the consortium members including; World Vision International, Society for Family Health, Ingenuity and AKROS lead by IntraHealth International to implement the five-year USAID/Ingobyi Activity, in twenty districts in Rwanda. The Ingobyi Activity focuses on Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal, Child Health and, Malaria (RMNCH&Malaria). The objective of the USAID/Ingobyi Activity is to improve the utilization and quality of RMNCH and malaria services in Rwanda, in a sustainable manner. In this project, Urunana DC mainly contributes to the achievement of Sub IR 1.2. ‘Improved health care-seeking behaviors for RMNCH/M services’. 

Main activities for Urunana DC include; production and dissemination of key messages on RMNCH & Malaria through the famous Urunana radio soap opera episodes, radio sketches, Umuhoza radio magazine programs and community outreach theater performances by the famous Urunana actors at selected sites in the intervention districts. 


2. Project title: Theatre for Improved Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices around ECD, School Readiness and Inclusive Education (Unicef)

From October 2017 through November 2019, Urunana DC has been implementing the project “Leading the Community to Act for ECD and Reduction of Stunting through Community Theatre” .This project focused on the use of edutainment approach through the radio soap opera (Urunana) and live community theatre performances for social mobilization to contribute to improved behaviour and social change regarding early childhood development (ECD) with a focus on promotion of good nutrition, best hygiene practices and promotion of maternal and child  health care in selected districts. The project was implemented in 10 districts mainly through theatre performances done by trained local theatre groups and Urunana celebrities. The project directly reached 142,000 people with key messages towards social behaviour change.

The local leaders’ involvement in phased out project yielded impressive results and therefore requested to mainstream the project activities in the rest of the sectors in the intervention districts. In that regard, this project has been extension under the title “Theatre for Improved Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices around ECD, School Readiness and Inclusive Education” to continue the activities including new components:

  • Interpersonal Communication.  This will help to generate evidence that will be used to measure direct and indirect results of the activities.
  • Production and broadcast of radio sketches/mini drama (5 minutes for each radio sketch) on private and community radios covering the target districts to make sure that the program continues to reach the target population even during the current restriction on community for prevention of COVID-19 transmission.The radio sketches will aim at creating demand for health care services at community level, prepare target population for re-opening schools, sensitize on child protection and fight violence against children, leverage the prevention messages on public health outbreak in the region (COVID-19, Ebola Virus diseases,..).

The following Districts are targeted for this project; Gicumbi, Nyabihu, Nyamagabe, Nyamasheke, Ngoma and Rwamagana. The sector in each of the intervention districts where project activities will be implemented, will be selected by UNICEF in consultation with authorities of the intervention districts.

The project activities planned in the intervention districts are:

  • Training of the selected community members to be part of the local theatre groups. Training will be on creative writing for stage, drama writing and acting, interpersonal communication skills and group discussion techniques.
  • Theatre performances: Two (2) to three (3) Urunana celebrities/famous actors and/or one music celebrity will support the local theatre group in their performances and this will be aimed at increasing attendance/audience.
  • Trained actors will conduct the IPC in the community to ensure the messages are reaching the community. Each actor will visit at least two (2) families/month, identified by the community and will give messages in one of the community forums of the Community (Inteko z’Abaturage, parent forums ‘umugoroba w’ababyeyi’, local saving groups ‘ibibina by’abaturage’, etc.),.
  • Evidence generation to measure and document activities. Data collection tools will be elaborated in collaboration with UNICEF and shall be gender responsive.

At National level, the project will broadcast messages on Integrated UNICEF programs (ECD, NUTRITION, HEALTH, WASH, CHILD PROTECTION, EDUCATION) using the Urunana soap opera broadcast through Rwanda Broadcasting Agency radio stations and Radio 10 (private radio station). Education will also have standalone episodes (36) to disseminate content on school readiness, girls in STEM and Inclusive Education.

During the period of the public health outbreaks like the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not easy to reach the target community with messages through live theatre performances as it involves mobilizing communities which could be a risk of disease spread. The government regularly issues instructions on disease prevention measures whilst ensuring continuity of provision of essential services to the population.   Urunana DC and UNICEF have found it imperative to continue the dissemination of social behavior change messages through other creative communication products, such as the use of 5 minutes radio sketches (radio mini drama) which will be broadcast on community and private radio stations in the intervention districts (Nyamasheke, Nyamagabe, Nyabihu, Gicumbi, Rwamagana and Ngoma districts). This is a mitigation strategy to reach out to the target  audience in the intervention districts during disease outbreaks like COVID-19/EVD response period in order to maintain the prevention measures of avoiding gathering.

After the broadcast, radio talk-shows on the same radio stations will be held as way of collecting feedback and interacting live with the audience/listeners on topics raised in the broadcasted radio sketches. Urunana DC team, some of local actors and a district officer  in charge of ECD or Health, Nutriton, WASH or any other related issue raised in the radio sketches will be  attendkng radio talk shows.

The proposed programme seeks to increase knowledge, practices and change attitudes/behaviour and promote positive child nutritional practices, education, hygiene, child protection, school readiness and inclusive education amongst both women/mothers and men/fathers with the aim of reducing childhood malnutrition and stunting and promoting care giving to young children (0-6 years) both female and male.

Expected results

  • By 2023 people in Rwanda, particularly the most vulnerable, enjoy increased and equitable access to quality education, health, nutrition and WASH services.
  • Families are aware of quality ECD & Family services, and provide nurturing and responsive care to young children (0-6 years), in targeted districts.
  • Children, from early childhood to adolescence, including vulnerable children, have enhanced quality of education for improved learning outcomes.

It is anticipated that the local theatre groups will then be the community own resource groups in edutainment activities and evidence generation that could be facilitated to educate communities on various issues of interest including maternal and child health issues. This will ensure sustainability of the program activities and community ownership of the program.