Development Media International, or DMI, has sought to rigorously demonstrate radio broadcasting of appropriately designed messages that could overcome information barriers and social norms, thereby catalyzing widespread use of radio messaging resulting in adoption at a national scale and beyond.
Their pilot demonstration programme was set up as a randomized controlled trial, or RCT, and between June 2016 and December 2018, the programme broadcast messages 10 times per day on market-leading local radio stations, using 60-second spots in local languages. The messages focused on, in an entertaining way, the key barriers to adoption of contraception identified through formative research. The programs were broadcast in eight radio catchment areas; another eight areas served as controls.
In 2016, GIF provided a $2 million grant to enable DMI to produce radio content that promotes the use of modern contraceptives and to work with radio stations to integrate family planning messages into their programming.
The pilot phase RCT was successful as reported by Glennerster, Murray, and Pouliquen (2021). It found that the mass radio campaign led to a 5.9 percentage point increase in the modern contraceptive prevalence rate. As hoped, this led to a nationwide scale-up in 2019.
During the pilot phase, over 600,000 women of reproductive age were reached by the mass radio campaign. During the national scale up, it was estimated that approximately 3.8 million women were reached. Glennerster, Murray, and Pouliquen (2021) estimated that due to the national scale-up of the mass radio campaign, 225,000 additional women are using modern contraception. We estimate that the increase in the use of modern contraception averted over 42,000 unintended pregnancies in 2020. Using information on Burkina Faso’s maternal mortality rate and unofficial abortion rate, we estimate that the mass radio campaign saved over 220 lives to date and reduced the number of unsafe abortions. Glennerster, Murray, and Pouliquen (2021) also found that the impact on contraception translated into an improvement in self-reported health and well-being among women impacted by the mass radio campaign.
To estimate the social value created by DMI due to reducing the number maternal deaths and unsafe abortions, we use estimates of the value of a statistical life for Burkina Faso, which is commonly used in cost-benefit analyses. The VSL represents the economic value that individuals are willing to pay to reduce the risk of death. We estimate that during the period of GIF’s investment (2016-2020), DMI generated $15 million in discounted net social benefits. Accounting for the fact that other investors also invested in DMI, we estimate that $9.4 million in discounted net social benefits was generated by GIF’s investment.
GIF awarded a $2 million grant to DMI in 2016, disbursed between 2016 and 2019. The 2015 discounted value of GIF’s investment is $1.75 million. We estimate that GIF’s investment in DMI has returned over $5.00 in social benefits to date, per dollar invested by GIF.
 Glennerster, R., Murray, J., and Pouliquen, V. (2021). The Media or the Message? Experimental Evidence on Mass Media and Modern Contraception Uptake in Burkina Faso. CSAE Working Paper WPS/2021-04.