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Ethiopia’s Abugida wins top award
Ethiopia
The BBC World Service Trust’s Ethiopian health radio show Abugida was named mass media communicator of the year in the 4th annual pan-African awards for strategic HIV and AIDS communication this month.





Organised by the African Network for Strategic Communication in Health and Development (AfriComNet), the awards celebrate the best of effective communication around HIV and AIDS across the continent, highlighting communication as an essential tool in the fight against HIV.
By young people for young people
Abugida is a weekly radio magazine programme targeting Ethiopian youth. The show addresses sexual and reproductive health (SRH) issues from different perspectives that young people can relate to, reaching a weekly audience of 2 million.
Since 2006, Abugida has been making a difference to young people’s lives across the country:
This is what a winning programme should look like and we're thrilled it was recognized. Other communicators can learn from it
Rob Ritzenthaler, Family Health International
"On most media in Ethiopia real people and their problems are ignored. But the Abugida programme is different. It is produced by young people, for young people. The producers talk to us, record our stories and get us to discuss them. There is no other radio programme equal to this", says one listener from Ambo, central Ethiopia.

At least 40% of the programmes are recorded outside Addis Ababa and in rural areas, helping to make the show relevant to a wider audience and reach vulnerable young people:
"The programme has completely changed my life and personal thinking. I was afraid to talk to my boyfriend but after we started listening in, we have begun to discuss our feelings openly and address our problems with confidence" adds a listener from Jimma, Oromia region.
Strong competition
Abugida faced strong competition in the mass media category, particularly from the OneLove Campaign, a 5-year regional mass media campaign aiming to reduce HIV incidence across nine Southern African countries. But speaking about what made Abugida stand out, Robert Ritzenthaler of Family Health International (FHI) and one of the judging panel said: "This is an exceptionally well-designed and executed programme. The audience is defined and understood, the messages are highly relevant, and components are in place to evaluate impact."
"This is what a winning programme should look like and we're thrilled it was recognized. Other communicators can learn from it", he added.
"I felt so excited and so shocked when I found out that we had won", said Mefthe Tadesse, programme director, shortly after the event. Going on to acknowledge Abugida’s unique approach in tackling HIV and AIDS issues through broader discussion and access to information: "We don't want to just tackle the immediate issues and do fire fighting," she said. "We want to change behaviour long term and inform young people."
Abugida continues to provide young Ethiopians with the opportunity to voice their opinions, pose questions, discuss solutions and establish a dialogue with other young people on a range of sexual health issues.
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Related links
Abugida: promoting sexual and reproductive health
Voices: changing attitudes to sexual health
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