Who we are

Development Media International (DMI) runs radio, television and mobile campaigns to change behaviours and improve lives in developing countries. We generate evidence of impact using robust evaluations, and scale up the most effective campaigns to reach many millions of people.

DMI is a UK-based social enterprise. We are currently working in four countries:

Burkina Faso | Democratic Republic of Congo | Mozambique | Tanzania

We work with whichever media channels are most effective at reaching our target audience. Often that means radio, but we also use television, and we are starting to work with mobile phones. 

Much of our work has been focused on health (including maternal and child survival, family planning, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases), but we also work on other issues (such as early childhood development). 

Recently we have focused on sub-Saharan Africa, but we have worked across the developing world, with extensive experience in Asia and Latin America, and we are interested in working in those regions again. 

Two factors make us different from other 'behaviour change communication' organisations:

1. Saturation

We apply a basic principle of commercial marketing that is often forgotten in social marketing: the importance of saturation (reach and frequency). Media campaigns will only be effective if they reach the majority of the target audience, even those in remote areas, and if they reach them often enough to drive home the key messages and calls to action. All of our campaigns are designed to maximise saturation. 

2. Evidence (science)

We believe that media behaviour change campaigns should be seen as legitimate social interventions in their own right, but this will only happen if they can prove that they work. So far, there has been little evidence to prove that media campaigns are effective at changing behaviours in developing countries. We have developed a robust set of tools to measure impact and generate evidence, including the first randomised controlled trial to show that a media campaign has changed health behaviours in a developing country (on child survival), and a second RCT (on family planning).  

Of course, a third element is needed: compelling stories that strike a chord with the audience and convince them to change their behaviours. 

Taken together, we describe these three elements (saturation, science and stories) as our Saturation+ methodology for changing behaviours at scale. We have proved that this unique approach works. We believe that well-designed and properly executed media campaigns are one of the most cost-effective channels for achieving population-level behaviour change (and we have the tools to prove that they work). We are now focused on scaling this approach to countries across the developing world. 



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Films about DMI

This series of short films outlines DMI's approach in using mass media to change behaviours:


Why DMI? (2:52)

DMI's CEO, Roy Head, describes how DMI was created to bring together the very different worlds of media and science, and how it has the potential to save over a million lives.

Changing Behaviours (3:16)

Everything that DMI does is based on changing behaviours. To do this, we combine field research (to understand how people think) with creative techniques (to manipulate their emotions). This film shows that process at work in Burkina Faso.


The Science (3:05)

What is the science that underpins DMI's work? How many lives can we actually save? What is a DALY? Professor Jimmy Whitworth (Wellcome Trust), Dr Richard Horton (The Lancet) and Roy Head (DMI) present the key concepts.


The Science (Part Two) (1:42)

A continuation of the scientific story, this film describes how we are testing our model through a randomised controlled trial in Burkina Faso.


Radio Partners (2:57)

Why do we form such close partnerships with radio stations? Why don't we just pay for airtime? This film, set in Burkina Faso, answers those questions and explores what local radio stations have to gain from the partnership.


The Talent (2:32)

DMI has a unique way of recruiting staff. Rather than selecting people based on education or experience, we invited 600 people with no experience at all to write a script...


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