Story Ideas to Help Broadcasters Meet the Challenges of HIV/AIDS and its Impact

HealthLivestock and beekeepingNutritionSocial issues


I. Program ideas to help rural communities cope with labour shortages and other impacts that result from HIV/AIDS.
Labour saving devices Story -Two women discover a more efficient way to collect and carry water from the community water source.

Messages -Local people should experiment with ways to save labour.

Further suggestions -Follow up with true stories of real-life local innovations. Look for stories about easy, efficient ways that local people use to carry water, grind grains, extract oil, and process and store foods

A goat in the family

Story -Based on the suggestion of the youngest son, a family buys a goat (or other type of livestock common in your region). The family keeps the goat in a pen and brings feed and water to the goat in the pen. The goat is well cared for and provides milk for the family. Extra milk is sold for cash.

Message -Small-scale enterprises can provide needed food and cash.

A community works together

Story – A village works together to manage a common granary (or other food production or storage system). The grain is distributed to local people whose family members are sick or have died from HIV/AIDS. The village chiefs are in charge of distribution of the food. They discuss how the food will be distributed and why.

Messages -There are ways that people can work together to make farming and food storage more efficient and provide help to families affected by HIV/AIDS.

Further suggestions -Follow up with an interview with a village chief or elder who remembers useful traditional practices that provide food for those who cannot provide for themselves.

Grow your own fertilizer

Story -An agricultural extension agent explains to a group of farmers a number of ways they can produce their own fertilizer instead of buying it. He asks the farmers how many different fertilizers they are growing right on their own land already. The farmers think of several things: livestock manure, tree leaves that are rich in nutrients and can be added to the soil, and local plants used as cover crops to add nitrogen to the soil. A similar story line could be used to discuss various ways farmers have to reduce time weeding (e.g., new, more effective tools, animals that help with weeding, cover crops that smother weeds).

Message -Farmers should fully consider the resources they have on hand, and ways of using them to make farming more productive. Many traditional practices make use of on-farm resources.

Further suggestions -Visit farmers in the field and interview them about how they use on-farm resources to fertilize the soil and reduce the amount of time they spend weeding.

Traditional foods are delicious

Story -When a mother decides to start growing and serving some local, traditional vegetables at home, her family protests. But, they stop complaining when they realize how tasty the foods are. The family discusses the fact that some traditional foods require less water and fertilizer. And the seeds can be saved and reused by the family.

Message -Traditional crops often require fewer inputs. Less cash is required to grow them, so they could be a good choice for families with limited resources.

Further suggestions -Do research and prepare programs about specific local crops that require less time, less water, and less fertilizer.

Proper nutrition

Story -A mother and daughter are caring for a female relative who is infected with HIV/AIDS. As they are shopping at the market, the mother explains to her daughter which foods are the most important and will give their sick relative the nutrients she needs.

Message -People infected with HIV/AIDS should get a healthy diet designed for their needs. Nutritious foods will keep people stronger for a longer period of time.

Further suggestions -Conduct interviews with health care workers or nutritionists about the best foods to provide for people with HIV/AIDS, including how the foods should be prepared.

II. Strategies for preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS: Story ideas that increase the self esteem of girls, demonstrate the benefits of abstinence, and promote tolerance of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Use condoms Story: A young boy and girl find themselves alone and feeling romantic. The girl suggests they buy a condom. The boy says he already has one.
Messages -Prepare for the future. Have condoms ready. Plan to have sex, don’t just let it happen. Know how to use condoms.

Further suggestions -I. Host an on-air discussion after the drama, perhaps with an invited expert, about how to use condoms and where to keep condoms. In preparation for the show, identify local obstacles to condom use. Interview men in your community and collect clips on the reasons men do not use condoms. II. Produce another program that discusses the use of female condoms. Find out more about female condoms from local health professionals and pass on the information to your audience.

Tolerance to people living with HIV/AIDS

Story: An older woman and her husband are arguing about caring for the woman’s niece who is infected with HIV. No other family members will take the girl, and the husband is reluctant.

Messages: People with HIV/AIDS need love and attention. You can’t get HIV from casual contact with people with HIV/AIDS. Anybody can get infected with HIV: it’s nobody’s fault.

Further suggestions: Follow the program with a live interview with someone from your community who is living with HIV/AIDS. If people who have HIV/AIDS will not participate, give others some scenarios to dramatize. Or, allow people to remain anonymous if they wish.

Funeral danger

Story: Young girls (12 to 15 years) are attending a village funeral where they meet some older boys. One of the girls wants to dance and drink with the boys. The others aren’t sure.

Messages: Parents should monitor the behaviour of girls at funerals. Young girls should recognize unwanted sexual advances and respond clearly and decisively.

Discussion questions (for young girls): How are girls your age influenced by the opinion of others? Do you feel pressures to do things that others do? How can girls resist these pressures? Is it fashionable for girls to have sex? What are the advantages of ignoring peer pressure and waiting to have sex?

Discussion questions (for mothers): How does attending funerals make girls vulnerable to sexual pressures? What can you do to reduce pressures on the girls? How can you make sure they don’t consume alcohol? How can older brothers and sisters keep an eye on the younger girls?

Sellers vulnerable

Story: Discussion between a village girl who is selling fruit to three men. One man begins to touch the girl.

Message (to parents): Send girls in pairs to sell goods at the market and keep an eye on them. Build up self-esteem of your girls. Girls have the right to control their bodies.

No means no: Negotiating abstinence with boyfriends

Story: A young girl and boy are touching each other and the boy starts pushing the girl to go further and have sex. The girl firmly says no, and explains what kind of future she wants for herself. She wants to finish school and get a good job.

Messages: Girls should have the confidence to resist sexual advances. No means no. Keep talking to your boyfriend and remind him you don’t want to have sex. Take control: Have sex when you are ready. Don’t be rushed into sex before you want to.

Further suggestions: How does a girl decide whether or not she is ready to have sex? How can you tell boyfriends that you are not ready to have sex? How can a girl show that she loves a boy without having sexual intercourse? What are the pressures on a girl to have sex? Is it right to have sex before marriage? How do you know if a boy who wants to have sex before marriage really wants to marry you?

A gift exchange
Story: A teacher is showing a young girl a gift and the girl is excited. To receive the gift, the girl agrees to have sex with the teacher.

Messages: Girls should not accept gifts from boys and men in exchange for sex. Learn to recognize unwanted sexual advances.

Discussion questions: How can girls avoid unwanted sexual advances of male teachers? Why do you think male teachers want to have sex with girls? Is it right for male teachers to pressure girls to have sex with them? Who would you feel comfortable telling about a sexual advance from a male teacher.

Live your dreams

Story: A girl is pressured to have sex with her boyfriend. They don’t use protection and she becomes pregnant. She sees all her dreams for the future are lost.

Messages: Your future is in your hands. If you want to live your dreams, protect yourself with condoms today. Abortions and Sexually Transmitted Infections can cause infertility. Don’t ruin your dreams. The decisions you make today affect the rest of your life.

Discussion questions: Where would you like to be 10 years from now? What do you want more than anything else in the world? What would it be like for you to have children? What would the perfect husband for you be like? What can you do now to realize your dreams?


Part I of this article was contributed by Jennifer Pittet, Toronto, Canada.

Part II of this article was adapted from the document, Recommendations for an Intervention by Eastern Region Queen Mothers Targeting Girls 12-15 Before the Onset of Sexually Activity, by Iain McLellan, June 2001.