Bangladesh has made great strides in expanding its power distribution network, but only 60 percent of the country has access to electricity and less than one third of households in rural areas are connected to the grid. Many of these areas are thus beyond the reach of traditional media like television or radio, so reaching people living in rural Bangladesh with basic information about health and nutrition is a challenge.
In order to reach these communities with key information about improving family nutrition, four Feed the Future implementing partners are working together to carry out a mobile media campaign to improve nutrition in remote villages across southern Bangladesh. Using portable large screen video messages along with interactive demonstrations and quiz games, these Feed the Future projects are educating rural families on proper nutrition and hygiene, as well as teaching them how to grow homestead gardens and improve the yield of fish, such as tilapia, that are raised in household ponds.
Members of the media outreach team travel to secluded areas by automobile and boats to share information through interactive sessions in villages. They teach families a variety of new practices, from using low-cost, hands-free “tippy tap” devices to wash their hands, to using higher quality fingerlings (young fish) to cultivate tilapia. The outreach teams also educate villagers about the importance of proper nutrition for pregnant women, exclusive breastfeeding for infants under six months of age and complementary feeding techniques to help small children grow up to be healthy adults.
So far, the “media dark” campaign – so named because it promotes media in the “dark” parts of the country without electricity – has reached more than half a million individuals in 1,500 villages. Bangladesh print and electronic media have also taken interest in this innovative approach, attending several village outreach events and providing extensive coverage of the program.
Over a three-year period, this rural social and behavior change communications campaign will conduct 8,600 shows in villages that are either fully or partially unconnected to electricity.
By working together and combining resources, Feed the Future partners are harnessing their expertise to achieve a common goal and provide critical information to help some of the most vulnerable people in Bangladesh have a chance to lead healthy and productive lives.
With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development under the Feed the Future initiative, this media campaign is implemented by SHIKHA through the combined efforts of the Aquaculture for Income & Nutrition, Strengthening Partnerships, Results and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING), and CIP-Horticulture projects in Bangladesh.