Educational soap operas over the phone


This blog article has been produced for Eye on Earth Summit 2011 by SciDev.Net Conference Service, which maintains all editorial independence.

How a small communication gadget called the mobile phone can transform the way we do things and change our lifestyles continues to amaze. So many things have already been done with it but new innovations make its uses appear inexhaustible.

One example is an interactive audio soap opera aimed at teaching households how to separate waste, which is now being piloted in Kenya. The programme listened to using ordinary phones (no need for the hightech smart ones) was one of the fascinating ideas presented during the Eye on Earth Summit in Abu Dhabi.

By dialing a tollfree number, you can listen to and experience the consequences of people’s own decisions regarding waste disposal. The service is based on a GSM network connection and does not require data transmission.

Simple text content and quizzes give background knowledge to the interactive stories of people throughout the community. They are also used for communicating and exchanging opportunities, according to Morton Saulo, communications officer for the National Environment Management Authority, Kenya, which is championing the project.

The whole concept is that changing attitudes requires education, and that is what the project aims to achieve. From household projects, it will move onto targeting larger groups. The hardest part will be getting policymakers at the national level involved, which would help to make effective decisions on waste management. And this way, this tiny gadget can really prove its worth.

Ochieng’ Ogodo

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