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Appropriate technology, media and platforms

BBC Media Action puts the communities it serves at the heart of its work. The media, technology and platforms that are chosen in the design and implementation of communication interventions are based on what are most appropriate ones for the audiences concerned. Designing solutions for appropriate platforms eliminates the need to distribute expensive hardware, while leveraging technology and solutions that people already use ensuring quick programme scalability.

Our starting point is research; which helps ensure a better understanding of accessibility, affordability, usability and scalability of the platforms that communities already use.

For example, in the design phase of the Shaping Demand and Practices (SDP) project, it became evident that to be effective in a media-dark state like Bihar, innovative health communication solutions would have to be identified. While using more conventional mass media platforms, such as radio and television would have limited reach, the fact that 80% of women in Bihar had access to a mobile phone, meant that the mobile phone represented huge trans-formative potential. But a closer examination of what that access meant, and how women were using those phones, showed that the phones were basic brick phones, often third-hand, cheap knock-offs. Low literacy and digital literacy levels meant that only 9% of frontline health workers (FLWs) had ever sent a text message. Leveraging appropriate technology meant developing something simple, appropriate, accessible, and audio based.

BBC Media Action and our partners engaged with over hundreds of rural mothers, fathers and FLWs to identify digital solutions to overcome barriers of access and illiteracy and reach even the most basic handsets, with little training and almost no technical literacy required. The resulting mHealth services – Mobile KunjiMobile Academy and Gupshup Potli – are thus audio-based and use simple IVR technology, which is easy to navigate. The services are accessible from any handset, with no software required.


Another example was the radio broadcast of Khirki Mehendiwali (Mehendi opens a window) – BBC Media Action’s 37-part radio series broadcast by All India Radio network in Bihar – which had very low reach among the female target audiences. This showed clearly that mass media penetration was low and “appointment” radio listening among the female target audience in Bihar was simply non-existent. Radio broadcasting was subsequently stopped by the project and instead, Khirki Mehendiwali was repurposed for listening and discussion in group sessions, using platforms that already existed, such as self-help groups (SHGs) and Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (state-run residential schools for girls from marginalised groups).