Woman carrying baby to represent the theme of child survival

Location Child survival

DRC Child Survival


In 2015, we ran a radio campaign on behaviours linked to child survival in eight provinces of the DRC. The campaign aimed to reduce child mortality by promoting healthy behaviours through radio spots broadcast on community radio stations. The campaign failed to achieve its main objective (changing behaviours linked to child survival), although it did have an impact on knowledge related to most of the target behaviours.


Democratic Republic of the Congo


Pneumonia, malaria, diarrhoea, nutrition, hygiene and maternal health


One-minute radio spots (10 per day per station) in Lingala, Kikongo, Tshiluba and Swahili


Our radio campaign ran from May 2015 to December 2015, on 35 radio stations in 8 provinces of DRC (Bandundu, Bas Congo, Equateur, Kasai Occidental, Kasai Oriental, Maniema, North Kivu and Orientale)


2.4 million people

Our Approach

A map identifying radio stations in DRC partnered with DMI for this campaign


Understanding the context

At the time of the campaign, 391,000 children under five in the DRC died each year from preventable diseases such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria. The maternal mortality ratio was also well above the MDG target of 230. We knew that we could reduce child mortality by promoting the adoption of simple, proven practices such as exclusive breastfeeding, handwashing and the use of insecticide-treated nets, and by encouraging caregivers to seek treatment when their children show symptoms of serious illnesses. Yet these behaviours were not widely practiced, often because of lack of knowledge or harmful beliefs and traditions, as well as supply-side constraints. For example, many mothers in DRC did not realise that giving water to young children can cause illness, and so, according to the 2010 MICS survey, just 37% of children are exclusively breastfed up to the age of six months.


Informative content

The project aimed to reduce under-five mortality in target provinces of DRC by 11%, by promoting healthy behaviours through radio adverts and dramas. We aimed to improve knowledge, attitudes and practices among pregnant women and mothers, their partners and other members of the community, and to understand and overcome key barriers to healthy behaviours (attitudinal, socio-cultural, religious, cognitive and practical).

The campaign targeted multiple health behaviours, rather than a single behaviour (such as exclusive breastfeeding, or use of insecticide-treated bednets for malaria). We broadcast radio spots on each behaviour for two weeks at a time, repeating key behaviours throughout the campaign. We ‘weighted’ the airtime devoted to each topic according to its predicted impact on behaviours and lives saved.

A man carrying his son to the clinic representing the theme of child survival in this campaign
A radio demonstrating the distribution mechanism used in this campaign


Working with community radio stations

Our radio spots were produced and broadcast in four local languages (Lingala, Kikongo, Tshiluba and Swahili). We reached around 2.45 million people in our eight target provinces, broadcasting on 35 community radio stations forming part of the network of community radio stations across DRC managed by the NGO Search for Common Ground. We broadcast 60-second radio spots up to 10 times per day on each of our partner radio stations.

Project impact

Lessons from a campaign that didn't change behaviours

We conducted a before-and-after evaluation in Bandundu province, with data collected by the Kinshasa School of Public Health, to measure the impact of the radio campaign on knowledge and behaviours related to child health. 42% of all women surveyed reported hearing child health messages on the radio during the campaign period. Mothers who had heard radio messages on child health were more likely than those who were unexposed to show improvements in knowledge across all of the child health areas covered by the campaign. However, there were no statistically significant differences in child health behaviours between mothers who heard health messages on the radio and those who did not. We hypothesise there are two possible reasons for this. The first is that the campaign may have included too many different messages, which resulted in most receiving as little as one week of broadcasting. The second is that this was a small scale evaluation in just one of the eight provinces reached by DMI’s campaign, and the study was not adequately powered to detect small shifts in rare outcomes.


Read more

You can read more about our reflections on why this project didn’t go to plan on the linked blog post.

Partners & Funders

This campaign was funded by UNICEF, IMA World Health (with DFID funding) and Save the Children.

IMA World Health logo Save the Children logo