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The Project

Zathu is a radio show and mobile platform created by the Girl Effect to tap into a rising desire amongst younger generations in Malawi to mix and help one another.

In 2017 HT collaborated with a multi-disciplinary team to script and design an engaging curriculum for youth clubs. The Zathu behaviour change strategy had created awareness, provided knowledge and changed attitudes but now needed to cement attitudinal change in actual behaviours.

The Environment

Girls and boys are kept apart as strict social norms governed by a belief that any relationship between them is likely to be a sexual one. As such platonic friendships are often discouraged and there is limited opportunity for them to meet, practice hobbies and socialise.

Malawi currently has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in Sub-Saharan Africa.  With girls around eight times more likely to be infected age 15 than boys (PEPFAR, 2017). 

Zathu’s radio show

Zathu’s radio show sought to tackle myths around HIV and transmission, such as the belief that having sex with a virgin girl cures a man of HIV/AIDS and that boys who have been circumcised cannot contract HIV.

The Design Challenge

While the Zathu brand has succeeded in entertaining its audience it must be of practical value. Clubs and societies have typically been segregated in line with social norms.

Bringing girls and boys together needed to happen within socially acceptable structures like existing school, church youth groups and girls and boy scouts clubs which were not perceived to be ‘cool.’

The Solution

Conducting focus groups, in-depth-interviews, creative exercises, and product testing we worked closely with the target audience to test materials that linked closely to the characters and content themes of the radio show.

The creative strategy linked radio themes to specific behaviour change goals, such as positioning girls and boys as equal, encouraging girls to speak out, equipping girls and boys to practice positive sexual and reproductive health behaviour and destigmatising HIV.

Activities were designed to encourage active listening and group debate and storytelling sessions familiar to adherents of Narrative Therapy.