UNICEF, NOA launch theatre groups for behaviour change

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has agreed to partner with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to institute 90 theatre groups in some states of the federation.

The theatre groups would be located in Kaduna, Nasarawa and Niger states to promote behavioural change through the use of drama in communities in the three states.

The partnership followed the resolutions of participants at the end of a three-day training workshop entitled: “Training of Trainers Workshop on Theatre For Development for Niger and Nasarawa states”.

The workshop is organised by NOA, Kaduna Office in collaboration with UNICEF Field Office, Kaduna to train health workers and theatre practitioners from Niger and Nasarawa states.

The workshop is on how to use drama to promote healthy and positive behavioural change in their respective communities.

No fewer than 50 participants were selected from 10 local governments from both states to join their counterparts in Kaduna who will also undergo the same training on Sept. 11 .

The TFD strictly focuses on using drama to advocate behavioural changes towards issues such as malnutrition, shelter, street begging, education, literacy, teenage pregnancy, child trafficking, malaria control and Human Immunodeficiency Virus/ Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome HIV/AIDS among others.

Meanwhile , participants at a workshop have lauded United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) for introducing the Theatre For Development (TFD) project.

Mrs Priscilla Gondaluor, Director of NOA, Nasarawa state said the prospect of using drama to champion healthy and positive behavioural change was exciting giving the fact that drama is very effective in shaping opinions.

“I think using the TDF is a step in the right direction. We all know how effective drama is in shaping how we view issues. I am very certain that the TDF option will go a long way in reaching out to many to adopt healthy lifestyle,” She said.

Mallam Mohammed Onawo, a theatre practitioner from Doma local government area of Nasarawa state and participant, said the training was a wise decision given the effect drama has on audiences.

“UNICEF has taken a very nice direction because most of the problems we have today are health related issues and they have their own origins at the community level. Look at the issue of ante natal, exclusive breastfeeding, immunization and the rest of them.

“So the use of the TFD methodology is a very wise decision and it is going to go a long way in addressing most the problems we have at the community level,” He said.

Another participant, Hajia Fatima Ibrahim, a theatre practitioner from Gbako local government area of Niger state also hailed UNICEF for the initiative which according to her if the focused based dramas are properly presented, will offer target communities a new platform of enlightenment on issues concerning healthy behavioural change.

“It is an interesting initiative. In fact, in my community, many of the people will easily be convinced to change the way they live because the advocacy will come in form of entertainment unlike the other dull methods used in the past,” she said.

Mr Eki George, UNICEF Communication For Development (C4D) Facilitator had explained to NAN that the TFD project is a paradigm shift from other methods.

UNICEF, he said, would ensure that the training reaches the grassroots to ensure that a huge percentage of those to receive the advocacy on behavioural change have a deep rethink on their lifestyles.

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