Television, music, and popular culture cannot change behavior effectively without three key elements: rigorous monitoring and evaluation, integration with community and interpersonal level behavior change interventions, and, of course, an audience. From the beginning, Rien que la Vérité has been designed to include all three.
As one might imagine, there are many challenges to collecting data in an environment like Kinshasa: chaos, security, mobile populations, linguistic and cultural differences, logistics, and lack of local capacity to name a few. These impediments, daunting as they are, have not dampened our commitment to data-guided decision making for the Rien que la Vértité platform.
We have always undertaken regular quantitative and qualitative research to help direct, adjust, and evaluate our work. We have conducted over 5,000 surveys in Kinshasa, along with dozens of interviews, site visits, and focus groups. We use the data from our research to help inform our choices at all levels. We rely on data to help choose distribution partners, craft effective messages, ensure message retention, measure audience size, and, eventually, measure behavior change.
Critical to our strategy is integration with ongoing behavior change communication activities being undertaken by the thousands of NGOs working to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS in the DRC. We work on 3 levels: we harness the unique strengths of mass media mechanisms, work to normalize HIV/AIDS discussion, and build strong local and national partnerships.
Using mass media to support behavior change
We don’t believe that someone will suddenly adopt a new behavior simply from watching a TV show. Behavior is a complicated collection of knowledge, beliefs, and practices that sit within an established personal and cultural context. It's important to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of each media and mechanism. Rien que la Vértité focuses on the strengths of mass media, particularly the strengths of television.
Normalize HIV/AIDS discussion
Congolese people talk about HIV and AIDS, but some specific behaviors, risks, and stigmas are still taboo. We have identified and focused on 4 key elements in support the goal of fully normalizing HIV/AIDS discussion in society.
Mass media and popular culture can generate attention and awareness, but without the deep work of interpersonal communication and community based action, lasting mechanisms to support change are missing. We focus on 4 strategies to help ensure lasting and effective change.
Some highlights reflecting the strong audience response to the platform from our surveys:
57% of youth 14-25 in Kinshasa have watched the show
61% of those watching TV Sunday at 8pm watch Rien que la Vértité
69% of people in Kinshasa recognized Rien que la Vértité marketing messaging/material
we extrapolate 3-5 million viewers per week nationally
91% who watch indicate a desire to watch additional episodes