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Keywords: MASS MEDIA AND PROMOTION OF THE BENEFIT OF EXCLUSIVE BREASTFEEDING
Media campaigns are often used to achieve audience mobilization and participation in the process of development. Often times, however, it fails to achieve the purpose for which it was designed owning to many factors. It is pertinent to ensure that such development communications are properly planned and designed so as to meet the target group and achieve the set objectives. This study examined the media campaigns on exclusive breastfeeding in Uyo local government area while analyzing the perceptions of women regarding the campaigns and the various media used in the exercise, it identified the various constraints in the utilization of the media to reach the envisioned audience. Anchored on the innovation diffusion theory, this survey research employed questionnaire as the major instrument of data collection. The data collected was presented in simple tables and percentages. The findings of this research findings include; interpersonal communication is the most effective mode of communication in communicating the exclusive breastfeeding campaigns, the campaigns do run in adequate volumes to effect behavioral change among these women, majority of the women reserve their predisposition towards exclusive breast-feeding in spite the campaigns and that they have challenges using the media through which they receive information on exclusive breast-feeding .Recommendations made at the end of this research work will help to enhance the planning and designing of the media campaigns in the state and Nigeria as a whole.
1.1 Background of Study
Effective communication enhances sustainable development. Many researches carried out support that communication and development are so closely related that there cannot be development without communication. In a developing country like Nigeria, strategies, plans and policies on developmental projects can only be effective and the desired results produced, if the project is properly communicated.
This indicates that it is important to properly articulate the development projects through planning and formulating strategies on how to actually implement the objectives of the development projects to achieve results. On the other hand and equally important is the communication regarding the development project. It must be properly communicated in order for people to see the need, the strategies and the desired result in view. This is what is known as development communication.
Development communication as defined by (Nwabueze, 2008:18) “is a conscious effort by a sender to package messages aimed at persuading, encouraging and convincing the receiver to adopt and participate in actualizing the development plan”. Development communication is used to bring about behavioural change towards the desired development in a particular society. These communication processes are often done through mass media campaigns and advocacy advertising.
Advocacy advertising champions preventive action against conditions affecting the public welfare (Ukonu, 2004:83). In development process, advocacy is concerned with producing information and knowledge for decision makers within the environment where the development is required to facilitate their ability to make informed decisions regarding the project or innovation.
It is not enough to just air these campaigns, it must be properly planned to meet the aim for its production. It entails properly researching the people who the development communication is targeted at, to ensure that the appropriate channel is used, the appropriate language and the message itself packaged to suit the people. This will in turn encourage their appreciating the development process and their participation in it. According to (Okunna, 2000:298), “development should be a participatory process whose success therefore ultimately depends on the involvement of the people in whatever project is being carried out”
There have been many of such campaigns for developmental processes in Nigeria, but whether these campaigns meet the desired objectives is a question that is yet to be clearly answered. As (Ekwelie, 1999: 6) opines:
We have proof that development and communication can be complimentary. We know that communication may fail to generate development, but after making all the allowances for accidents in nature and society, we are still left with a paradigm that links communication with development
One of such campaigns is the exclusive breast-feeding campaign. This campaign is no longer news to Nigerians especially women. Exclusive breast-feeding campaign is the leading intervention in the prevention of child malnutrition which is the major cause of more than half of all child deaths in developing countries. In an attempt to achieve successful breast-feeding globally by the year 2000, World Health
Organization (WHO) and United Nations international children Emergency fund (UNICEF) launched the baby friendly hospital initiative (BFHI) in 1991. It is a project through which exclusive breast-feeding is being supported, promoted and protected.
Exclusive breast-feeding means that no other drink or food should be given to the infant except breast milk; the infant should feed frequently and for unrestricted periods. The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) recommends that infants be breast fed for six months and thereafter until twenty-four months alongside other proper food for the child. This recommendation is because of the various research publications on the superiority of breast milk compared to other type of milk for the nourishment of infant, and the offering of better health benefits to both mother and child. All nutritional needs for children are provided by the breast milk in the right amount and duration. This crucial benefit of breast milk prompted the need for exclusive breast-feeding campaign.
In spite of all the efforts geared towards achieving the goals of exclusive breast feeding campaign, which include reducing infant malnutrition and mortality, the project still does not have 100 percent success. This is owing to a number of factors which include gap in communication, especially in the rural areas. Writing on the effective promotion of breast-feeding in the 21st century (Oruamabo, 2004:15) affirms that “Women resident in the rural areas pose the greatest problems”.
Exclusive breast-feeding campaign is communicated through the various mass media in the country. These media include the radio, television, Newspapers and magazines, banners, posters, and flyers. Infant welfare clinic sessions at several hospitals and antenatal clinics are also avenues where information about exclusive breast-feeding is communicated.
The campaigns often times are not holistic, in that they are urbanized which removes the rural people from the picture. (Mboho, 2005:114) noted that communication with rural people is a complex process, involving a combination of traditional and modern mass media. Unlike in the urban communities where the modern mass media are used to disseminate messages of development
communication, one cannot ignore the traditional means of communication. This is owing to the lack of the basic infrastructural amenities like electricity and good road network which often hinder the spread of these modern mass media.
Media campaigns in Uyo local government area are often sponsored by government agencies or international organizations that plan and place these campaigns at the national levels of the media and through their network channels the campaigns are spread to reach people all over the federation. Thus they may remain as one of those programmes or advertisements to people because their contents are not localized, in that it is not done to suit the people that the campaign is targeted at.
Again the media campaigns, because very often are sponsored by, private agencies or as a means of publicizing a particular world programme, the campaigns do not come in the right volumes to sustain the process until there is the desired behaviourial change which will bring about the developmental process.
Another part to consider is the perception of the women, of the campaigns and the extent to which they are influenced by the campaigns to stimulate behaviourial change which will result to the desired development. Do they buy the idea in the campaign? Does the strategy and type of programme appeal to them and their media patterns? All of these must be considered for the campaign to meet the target and get the right results.
Again, it is necessary to use the most suitable medium for the right target audience in order to achieve the desired result. The women in Uyo local government area can appreciate fully the advantages of the use of modern mass media for the campaigns; however, how effective are these media in communicating the message of the exclusive breast-feeding campaign especially in the rural areas in Uyo local government area? The print media i.e. the newspapers and magazines which are mainly national dailies often carry these breast-feeding campaigns. However this medium may not be effective in the communication of these campaigns to these women in Uyo local government area because of the need for readers to be literate and again the cost of buying copies which the women especially those in the rural areas may not readily afford.
Many scholars have repeatedly stated the power of the electronic media over all other communication media .(Aniebona 1990:116) observed that the world has recognized the fact that broadcasting is a powerful and effective tool for the spread of education for both children and adults in order to achieve certain prescribed goals.
According to Waterson (1969), the radio is a veritable channel through which group behaviour can be directed in a concerted way in order to bring about any social change. Radio stations are important channels through which these development communications can be transmitted because of its cost effectiveness and the fact that it does not necessarily require electricity to operate. Again the radio tends to identify more with the audience including the rural dwellers in terms of programme content and language of delivery, because information is also transmitted using the vernacular language.
However, the use and effectiveness of these broadcast media by the women is also not very clear. (Okenwa 2000: 42) states that “the worry of many communication scholars is that, just as research has shown evidence that broadcasting is a powerful rural development communication tool, evidence also shows that broadcasting is yet to be effectively utilized in the rural development communication”. This buttresses the point by (Oruamabo 2004:21):
It would appear therefore that information packaging on breastfeeding campaign have been very much skewed in favour of urban dwellers and I want to believe that these findings are not unique. The 1999 NDAS figures on the time of initiation of breast-feeding showed that 43% of the urban dwellers imitated Breast-feeding within one hour to 36% of rural dwellers….
Thus there exists a gap in knowledge about exclusive breast-feeding benefits and methodology between the urban and the rural women. This results in the campaigns not achieving the purpose for their design. This sets back the process of development. Although the women in the rural areas may be prone to do more exclusive breast-feeding than their urban counterparts, information on the time of initiation of breast-feeding, duration for the exclusive breast feeding and also the proper ways of breast feeding the child may not be fully known to them. Hence the need to communicate these messages to them, if holistic results are to be achieved.
Equally important are the traditional media which include all kinds of verbal and non-verbal communications designed for disseminating messages to the people living within the locality.(Ndolo, 1998:12) defines traditional communication as “a source of media indigenous, credible and acceptable channels of communication utilized by rural dwellers for various societal functions including dissemination of messages”. These traditional communication means are embedded in the culture and
social life of those in the rural areas, and are such that they cannot do without.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Even though there are myriads of these campaigns on the mass media and all other channels of communication, there is yet to be significant success results accruing because of exclusive breast-feeding campaign. There are still disparities in the results obtained between the rural areas and the urban areas. Also the results obtained at the national level do not tally with those at the state level especially in Uyo local government area.
These disparities in the results could be because of a lot of factors. These campaigns are done through the various mass media and human media just as it is at the national level, yet the results are not the same. This can be an implication of the ineffectiveness of the media used. Again the perception of the women regarding the media and even the cost of assessing some of the media used are issues that can hinder the influence of these campaigns in order to achieve the desired results.
The contents of the message and the programme type through which the campaigns are publicized can also be a hindrance to achieving the desired objectives of the campaign in the state.
It is the burden of the researcher therefore to evaluate media campaigns on exclusive breast-feeding, in order to analyze its influence on the women in Uyo local government area. Also, to evaluate the available results in comparison to the set objectives of the campaigns and to evaluate the disparities in the use of the campaign between the rural and urban areas in Uyo local government area on exclusive breastfeeding. The problem statement of this research work thus is why media campaigns on exclusive breast-feeding in Uyo local government area are ineffective.
1.3 Objectives of Study
The following include the general purpose for this research work
1.4 Research Questions
In line with the problem, that this study is set to solve, the following research questions have been formulated as a guide to the study.
1.5 Significance of Study
The study would enhance the effectiveness of media campaigns in Uyo local government area because it will help campaign designers to use the right medium for the right target audience.
This study would be useful to media practitioners because it will provide information on how to effectively mix the various communication media available for the people i.e. the modern mass media and the traditional communication systems in the disseminations of information and development communication messages especially to those in the rural areas. Decision makers on development programmes should be able to use
contributions from this study to design campaigns that are balanced. Campaigns that take the constraints of women have in the use of various media for campaigns in the state into consideration, thus increasing the desired behaviourial change geared towards development because the campaigns will be effective.
This study could also be helpful for initiators of these campaigns to analyze and evaluate the results on the exclusive breast feeding campaigns in the state because it will analyze the perception of the women on the various media and type of programme used for the campaigns and thereby improve on subsequent development communication.
This study will also be a source of literature for further studies in this area.
Keywords: MASS MEDIA AND PROMOTION OF THE BENEFIT OF EXCLUSIVE BREASTFEEDING