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19 Nov 2010 - 16 Jan 2012
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Groundbreaking rural soap opera stimulates debate
Ethiopia
Working in partnership with local broadcaster, the Amhara Mass Media Agency, we produced Ethiopia's first radio soap opera recorded on location - designed to stimulate debate about rural livelihoods.




Start date: November 2006
End date: February 2007
Media Types: Radio
Issue: livelihoods
Country: Ethiopia
I wanted to show how people can empower themselves to change their lives.
Beminabu Kebede, Writer and Director of Filega
People across Ethiopia tuned in to hear Filega, a weekly 18-part radio soap opera set in a fictional rural community, very like their own.
For the first time, listeners heard characters like themselves, played by local actors grappling with the problems they face in their own lives.
"I wanted to create a drama where every character is on a quest for personal and material improvement. I wanted to show how people can empower themselves to change their lives - both individually and as part of a community."
Beminabu Kebede, Writer and Director of Filega

Filega used drama and humour to stimulate debate about the challanges facing rural communities, including:
  • Access to water and food
  • Deforestation and soil erosion
  • Poor sanitation and hygiene
  • Gender relations
  • Sexual and reproductive health
  • Early marriage
men still think that all household chores that require hard labour should be the woman's responsibility
Ato Amsalu, resident of Weramit Kebele, Ethiopia
Filega highlighted the stresses and conflicts that emerge when any attempt is made to change the traditional status quo.
It then examined how a re-evaluation of existing social norms and farming practices can have a positive impact on the community.
"You can tell the drama is entertaining, because when people listen they laugh and are seen with smiles on their faces. Apart from this, the drama teaches families to share the burden of life in rural areas.
"I personally give my wife all the help she needs. I fetch water from the riverbank and take grain to town to be ground. But many men still think that all household chores that require hard labour should be the woman's responsibility. Filega teachs male audiences with this kind of mind-set to change their attitudes."
Ato Amsalu, resident of Weramit Kebele, Ethiopia

  • Filega was the first location drama production in Ethiopia
  • Broadcasting Filega at peak times on the Amhara Mass Media Agency reached audiences across rural Ethiopia.
  • Ethiopian producers, technicians and actors learned the skills necessary to produce a digital radio drama.
  • Audiences said Filega stimulated discussions about agricultural and social issues.
Working in partnership
Filega was produced in partnership with the Amhara Mass Media Agency (AMMA), a popular radio station with a broadcast footprint across Ethiopia.
The BBC World Service Trust provided training to AMMA staff, who closely supported the production of the drama, reviewing and commenting on the storylines.
AMMA gave the drama a prime-time slot - 7.15pm on a Saturday night.
Ato Tamrat Sisay, Head of Amhara Radio Production at the Amhara Mass Media Agency said of the drama:

"The quality of characterisation in this drama, the quality of sound and the use of language, is incredible. Filega stands as a model for the Amhara Mass Media Agency, and other broadcasters, to follow."
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