Posted by Justin on February 13, 2018

Breeze FM Radio station in Chipata, broadcasts to nearly all of Eastern Province, extends its coverage to Serenje in Central Province and crosses the national frontiers into Malawi and Mozambique. The Radio station’s wide reach makes it one of the most attractive forms of mass media to reach any specific target audience within and slightly outside the province.

Nyimba and Vubwi are the only districts in Eastern Province where the radio station’s signal is weak.

‘Breeze’ was thus a station of first choice for the National HIV/AIDS/STI/TB Council (NAC) in 2016 along with Hot FM in Lusaka, Flava in Kitwe, Falls FM in Livingstone and New Generation FM in Solwezi to broadcast adolescent and young people specific HIV, AIDS, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) programmes sponsored by UNICEF.

The contract sum for phase 1 of Test Your Life on Breeze FM  was K39, 020.00 catering for the 26 weeks 45 minutes long live broadcasts, production and airing of programme promos and presenters’ fees.

The first caller to the first in the 26 weeks series Test Your Life radio broadcasts on Breeze FM was a Serenje resident on the Northern end of Central Province across the Muchinga escapement. Like the first phase of Test Your Life, the second is centered on adolescent health sexuality, rights, HIV prevention and AIDS management.

A NAC team visited the radio station on 1st February 2018 to learn about the possible impact being made on the lives of adolescents and young people in the second round of the radio broadcasts.

A total of 24 adolescents have been lined up as discussants reinforced by subject experts from six strategic organisations namely, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) and two civil society organisations which are Chisomo Community Programme and Smiling Kids. 

The radio station is recording feedback from listeners through phone calls, Short Message System code (SMS) and is currently in the process of including a Facebook platform.

The most pertinent issues of concern being raised by adolescents and young people on Test Your Life radio programmes include lack of recreational facilities, limited youth friendly spaces and poor management of the few that may exist, limited Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) centres and erratic supply of condoms.

Chipata District has only 10 static and eight ART centres while the entire Eastern Province has only 268 static ART centres.  

Apart from general shortages of condoms, a concern is being raised by Test Your Life radio listeners to make condoms available outside health facilities.

The estimated consumption of condoms in Eastern Province is 2,000,000 per quarter translating into an annual consumption rate of 8,000,000.

The fact that Breeze FM extends its broadcast frequency to Malawi and Mozambique, it presents itself as an ideal platform for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM)’s Cross Border project, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), HIV Knows No Borders, which targets key populations such as commercial sex workers and their clients, migrants including truck drivers, adolescents and young people in Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.

On the Zambian side, Chisomo Community Programme is IOM’s implementing partner operating in three districts of Chipata, Katete and Chadiza’s Chanida boarder area near Mozambique.

By end of January 2018, Chisomo Community Programme had reached 3,406 migrants, 1,198 commercial sex workers, 4,774 adolescents and young people with SRHR and information services using volunteers knowns as social change agents drawn from each of the three target audiences.

Chisomo is working closely with the Ministry of Health, the Police (VSU), Immigration, DEC, Human Rights Commission, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Youth and Sports and Ministry of Gender, traditional and religious leaders.

The programme has established 34 community information hubs dotted around the operational areas. It has also set up 6 hubs for the adolescents and the youth managed by the youths themselves and 28 hubs for female sex workers managed by fellow sex workers for easy access to SRHR information and services.

Prepared by NAC Communications Unit