Radio campaigns use geospatial data to reduce barriers to contraceptive use in Zambia

February 16, 2021

To aid the government of Zambia in its efforts to improve access to and demand for sexual and reproductive health services, Development Media International refined a Social and Behaviour Change Communication strategy that uses data produced by GRID3 in collaboration with Fraym. This strategy analyses the current need for contraceptives at the district level alongside access to radio broadcasts to identify areas where a radio campaign will have the greatest impact. Through the campaigns, DMI is reaching 8 million listeners every month. 


In Zambia, contraceptive use has been low. A report published by Family Planning 2020 reveals that in 2019 roughly 35% of all women were using contraceptives. Low contraceptive use can lead to early and unintended pregnancies and the contraction of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), resulting in adverse health, educational, social, and economic outcomes. The Women’s Integrated Sexual Health Lot 2 (WISH2ACTION) Consortium1 is working with the Ministry of Health to increase the use of modern contraception in Zambia, thereby reducing maternal and child mortality. As part of this consortium, Development Media International (DMI) is developing evidence-based mass media campaigns to tackle the social and cultural norms which prevent people accessing modern contraceptives.

Using risk data provided by GRID3 in collaboration with Fraym, DMI was able to refine a Social and Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) strategy which included running radio campaigns for specific districts with the aim of addressing barriers to the uptake of contraceptives, such as misconceptions about their safety, low support from men, and stigmatisation of young people accessing contraceptives. Ultimately the aim of the campaigns was to change behaviours, tackle norms, and increase contraceptive use in the country.

About the strategy

To inform the strategy, DMI collaborated with the GRID3 Zambia team to analyse information on the number of people who regularly listen to the radio and risk data on communication and socioeconomic vulnerability. Communications risk analyses cover vulnerability resulting from limited access to information through traditional media, while socio-economic risk data measures vulnerability of populations with limited options to cope with economic shocks. From these data, DMI identified districts with high access to communication media and radio listenership and compared them with key sexual and reproductive health indicators from Zambia’s Demographic Health Survey data. GRID3 made the risk data available through interactive web maps and an online data dashboard.

“The availability of the vulnerability risk data in an accessible, user-friendly format allowed us to easily identify districts with a high unmet need for contraceptives in which radio campaigns would have the greatest potential to change behaviours. We used this information to inform our radio station selection and broadcast strategy. In December 2020, we reached eight million listeners with the campaigns,”

says Georgina Francis, Country Operations Manager at DMI.

While using mass media to increase demand for modern contraceptives has proven to be a highly effective strategy, reaching those who are outside the coverage of traditional media broadcast was also a high priority for DMI and the WISH2ACTION Consortium. In this endeavor Fraym and GRID3 data once again played a crucial role:

“The data also allowed us to locate and target districts that would benefit from alternative, ‘below the line’, strategies, such as interpersonal communication, community meetings, and roadshows. For example, we developed a focused intervention in two districts of Southern Province after the data indicated that such strategies should be employed to reach the target population in those areas. The data provided by Fraym and GRID3 have proved invaluable for our SBCC strategy.”

To access GRID3 data for Zambia, please visit our Data Hub.


1 The Women’s Integrated Sexual Health (WISH) programme offers quality integrated and inclusive family planning and sexual and reproductive health services to marginalized and hard to reach populations: the poor, youth under 20 and people living with disability. WISH is the UK Government’s flagship programme to support integrated sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) services in a range of countries across Africa and Asia by 2021. The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) manages the WISH programme through a consortium arrangement (Lot 2) with 10 IPPF Member Associations and hand – picked partners chosen for their expertise to maximise access and reach for people in 15 countries: Development Media International (DMI), Humanity and Inclusion UK (HI), International Rescue Committee (IRC), Marie Stopes International (MSI), and Options Consultancy Services (Options).

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