Communication & Participation

Current Situation

Knowledge in fields such as health, nutrition, gender roles, sex and reproduction, and the beliefs and attitudes that shape behaviours, are to a large extent rooted in local cultures and traditions and transmitted and sustained by community institutions and opinion-leaders (the madrinhas and matronas involved in girls’ initiation rites, traditional birth attendants, traditional medical practitioners, chiefs and régulos, among others), as well as the religious leaders. UNICEF has been engaging with different opinion-leaders through strategic alliances, interpersonal communication and information sharing for awareness creation.

The low level of literacy (especially female) means that access to information is mainly oral, highlighting the importance of community-level communication, especially radio broadcasts in local languages and face to face communication.

In addition to state-owned Radio Mozambique, which broadcasts in both Portuguese and local languages, there are more than 90 community radio stations, which broadcast entirely in local languages and cover almost half of the 141 districts. These broadcasters produce locally generated programming that speaks to the interests and concerns of local listeners and thus provide a valuable platform for the dissemination of information and knowledge, including on topics such as health, nutrition and HIV/AIDS. As a vehicle for participatory communication, closely linked to communities, they could become important agents of social change. However, they also face serious technical and financial constraints and depend heavily on unpaid volunteers and external assistance, which put at risk their long-term sustainability.

Access to information through the mass media remains low, even in the case of radio
Access to information through the mass media remains low, even in the case of radio.

Access to information through the mass media remains low, even in the case of radio. The 2011 DHS found that only 50% of households own a radio set (57% in urban areas and 47% in rural areas), indicating a slight decline from 53% nationally in the 2003 DHS. The proportion of households owning TV sets has more than doubled, but from a very low base, reaching 19% in 2011. TV ownership is almost entirely restricted to the urban areas, where 49% of households owned TV sets in 2011, compared with 6% in the rural areas. The DHS data also indicate that, especially in the case of radio, men listen to broadcasts more than women (66% compared to 43% at least once a week), possibly because the radio sets are portable and may often belong to men within the household. Overall, half (48%) of all women aged 15-49 do not have any access to mass media (radio, TV or newspapers), compared to 26% of men. There are marked disparities by area of residence, province and quintile.

Growing mobile telephone coverage is providing a new cost-effective means of disseminating information, although coverage is still lower than in most other southern African countries. Only 34% of households own a mobile phone, according to DHS data for 2011, and this proportion is much less in rural than urban areas (20% compared with 67%). According to the National Communications Institute of Mozambique (INCM), 70% of all mobile phone users are concentrated in and around Maputo.

As of 2011, it is estimated that 45 % of the population in Mozambique is under 15 years of age and 52% is below 18 years (Instituto Nacional de Estatística -INE, 2010).

What we are doing


UNICEF is at the forefront of communication for development programming

UNICEF Communication, Advocacy, Participation, and Partnerships programme brings dedicated resources to bear on integrated behaviour and social change communication, social mobilization, and advocacy strategies supporting results for children, youth and families across all sectors. 

Programme interventions often emphasise addressing supply side barriers, such as the lack of materials, facilities, public services and goods while bottlenecks to the uptake or utilisation of these services and goods are frequently not given the same consideration. Addressing uptake and utilisation means tackling demand side issues such as people´s knowledge, attitudes, belief systems, values, social norms and practices and needs.  In order to address these issues in a systematic and comprehensive way, particularly when issues of equity exist, requires a well-articulated communication for development (C4D) strategy, based on formative research.


Communication for Development

UNICEF uses a wide range of tools and approaches to engage children, caregivers, communities and others to adopt positive social and behaviour changes, including the development of long-running radio drama, using new technologies to reach adolescents and young people with relevant information and counselling, supporting partners in producing weekly radio programmes in Portuguese and National languages in more than 50 community radios, engaging and training key influencers such as religious and community leaders, training frontline workers such as nurses and community health workers on interpersonal communication skills and mobilizing rural communities through multimedia mobile units and through community theatre.


Child Participation

UNICEF Mozambique is making progress towards a more effective child engagement in development and rights promotion, mainly through two child participation projects: Child to Child (C2C) media programme production and presentation, as well as, Child Parliament, a platform for dialogue in order to engage adolescents and youth up to 18 years old in an open debate on issues that concern them.

Assessments of the Child to Child Media Network and the Child Parliament revealed that both the projects are important platforms for child participation. The fact that both platforms are established at national, provincial and district levels paves a way for greater potential in reaching as many children as possible in Portuguese and local languages. However, social norms and poor knowledge on child participation from children themselves, child mentors and media managers hinder effective participation of children and further achievement of good results in this field. 

Our results

Communication for Development

Key social norms researches have been initiated in rural sanitation and sanitation in small towns, desk reviews were conducted on child marriage and nutrition, in order to have the right knowledge to inform adequate C4D strategies. A triennial Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Eduardo Mondlane (UEM), in order to establish a joint research plan on social norms and behaviours determinants with the involvement of researchers, professors and students.

To influence social change at community level, UNICEF partnered with the Inter-Confessional Council of Religions (COREM) composed by the Christian and the Islamic councils of Mozambique and the Catholic Church. Regular consultations with religious leaders served to develop a Multi-Faith Guide to promote behavior change on health, education and child protection, with reference to biblical and koranic passages.

In order to promote key family competencies, a national long running entertainment-education radio novel was launched in July 2015 in partnership with Radio Mozambique and PCI Media Impact. The pilot phase was completed in 2014 with selected episodes tested with key audiences in Maputo, Tete and Zambezia, in order to assess the level of comprehension, attraction, acceptance, relevance and promotion of change.

Since 2012, more than 3.5 million people have been reached in rural areas of the priority provinces with mid-media interventions such as community theatre and multimedia mobile units.

C4D sectorial interventions were also supported with the development of the communication strategies for the National Health Weeks, the development of the Ebola and Cholera communication plans and the roll out of the Children with Disability Campaign with more than 2.5 million people reached through the media.

Promoting greater child participation

In response to the child participation challenges, and with the objective of engaging children to take an active and leading role on child participation, UNICEF is working with partners to address several key issues. These include: greater visibility and ownership of child platforms so to ensure sustainability; improve the integration of the networks with other child participation platforms for greater coverage; support training of adult mentors and managers on child participation related issues; and promote an equitable and comprehensive integration approach to ensure participation of children from all backgrounds.  

An integrated UNICEF child engagement strategy is being developed based on the assessments completed earlier in 2015 on both the C2C media network and the Child Parliament. This will provide clear guidance for more comprehensive partnerships with different platforms of child participation, to ensure that children’s rights to participation are fulfilled as guaranteed by the CRC.

  • The Participatory Child Rights Media Network (PCRMN) is the voice of Mozambican children in the media.  Programming is disaggregated into three segmented groups: 9-11 Child to Child (C2C), 12-14 Junior Youth to Junior Youth (JY2JY) and 15-18 Youth to Youth (Y2Y) media programmes.  With more than 1,500 producers in more than 60 TV and Radio stations, the Network aims to stimulate the engagement and participation of children and young people in development processes by providing them with a platform to express their opinions and discuss issues that are affecting them.  With UNICEF support, PCRMN enables children and young people to be involved in the development, production and presentation of radio and TV programmes by and for children.  Using participatory and entertainment-education approaches subjects like HIV infection, sexual abuse and child trafficking, usually taboo in Mozambican society, are openly discussed by the young producers. 
  • Child Parliament, that includes, but not exclusively, young people from 15 – 18 years old, is a platform to promote greater participation in the national development process by raising awareness of members of the Government, the Parliament, the organs of administration of justice and civil society. The coordination of the Child Parliament activities is made by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare being the Provincial and District Child Parliament coordinated by provincial departments and district offices respectively.
  • U-Report (SMS-based innovative technology platform designed by UNICEF)Under the umbrella of the Geração Biz programme, u-Report will ensure continuous access to personalized HIV information for adolescents and young people through SMS, real-time feedback and referral and linkages to other tool free platforms including the Child Helpline (116), Alo Vida, UNICEF facebook page, PSI Technology for Development (T4D) Movercardo for condoms distributions monitoring and others.