Public Awareness Campaign and Education Via Radio Broadcasting

A Review of the Literature

Leonard Chavarria Jr.

Jon Kyle

Elizabeth Kipping

Deidra Smith

Keisha West

Valine Ritchie

Dan Belhumeur

Peter Biolsi

Applications of Sustainable Development, ESCI 375

Professor Ashman

February 26, 2008

Public Awareness Campaign and Education Via Radio Broadcasting

A Review of the Literature

What implications do the Toledo District face being the most economically depressed region in Belize? This puzzling concern has caught the attention of many researchers, government, non-government organizations and international agencies; particularly after the mid-1970s, when it became obvious that Toledo had lingered far behind in development compared to most of the rest of the country. Toledo’s economic situation undermines the potential of rural communities, especially the indigent Mayan communities, to achieve sustainable development. In these poverty stricken communities, a high level of illiteracy prevails and the major priority is to meet the basic survival needs rather than going to school. Likewise, there is little or no interest in critical social factors such as HIV/AIDS Awareness and Prevention, and Domestic Abuse. Thus, this literature review considers whether the use of radio broadcasts is a promising approach to address the issues of:


(2.)Environmental Responsibility

(3.)Domestic Abuse

(4.)Animal Treatment

The review focuses on some of the major initiatives currently geared at addressing the aforementioned four issues, and examines some of the major findings of prior research as it relates to these factors. Additionally, a section on broadcasting, and the creation of effective public service announcements, follows the discussion of these four issues. The final section evaluates the contribution of past research to the current proposed research problem.


2007/2008 Report: Belize. (2008). Human Development Reports. Retrieved February 25, 2008, from

This source is the online version of a yearly report published by the United Nations Development Program. In this report, a wide array of demographic data for each country is compiled and then used to form a Human Development Index, through which each country’s development trends can be measured over time. Analyzing the data provided in this report will give us a general idea of where Belize stands in terms of development in the global spectrum. This will not only reflect areas in which Belize has made significant progress, it will also highlight the areas that should become priorities for future improvements.

While our group’s focus is specifically on the Toledo District of Belize, having a more general understanding of Belize’s demographic trends and statistics will serve as an important point of reference. This data will become particularly useful when formulating our initial survey for the Blue Creek area because it will allow us to recognize the ways in which the most pressing needs in Toledo may differ from the rest of Belize. Furthermore, the hope is that through surveying the area our group will gain some understanding as to why these differences came to be, and how they should be addressed. Such understanding seems essential in order to facilitate positive future change in the Toledo District and greater Belize.

HIV/AIDS Demographics

National AIDS Committee. (2005, December 31). UNAIDS 2006 Country Progress Report. In Belize. Retrieved February 24, 2008, from

The National AIDS Committee (NAC) published this report in 2006 to address the condition of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Belize and the actions needed to control its growth. Since the first case of HIV was diagnosed in Belize in 1986, there has been a steady increase of reported infections in subsequent years. Up from 2.1% in 2001, the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), found the adult prevalence of HIV to be 2.4% at the end of 2005, making Belize the country with the highest adult prevalence in Central America and third highest in the Caribbean. From 2003 to June, 2005 there were 186 cases of AIDS developing and 196 AIDS related deaths. AIDS related mortality rose to the third leading cause of death in 2004, affecting the productive and reproductive age group (15-49 years).

Based on available data, the Belize District has the highest percentage of AIDS cases developing (62.4%) and AIDS related deaths (69.4%). Such statistics and perceptions are precisely what our public service announcements will attempt to address. The AIDS epidemic is prevalent in villages and tribes in the Toledo District, and testing statistics do not reveal this due to the lack of those being tested in these areas. In addition, those contracting HIV in larger towns and cities are bringing the virus into small, remote villages. Other issues, including contraceptive use and education, put villages at a disadvantage to combat the spread of the disease. It is these concerns that our announcements will convey to the population most at risk of contracting HIV, and encourage frequent testing and responsible practices.

HIV/AIDS Awareness and Prevention

Ministry of National Development, Government of Belize. (2005). First Millennium Development Goals Report Belize 2004. Prepared in part by Development Paradigm Consulting for the National Human Development Advisory Committee (NHDAC) and the Government of Belize July 2005. Retrieved on February 23, 2008, from

The First Millennium Development Goals Report Belize 2004, brought to light many interesting points. According to the report, Belize’s current HIV prevalence rate is 2%; the highest in Central America and the fifth highest in the Caribbean, with notable features including:

(1.)the male to female ratio of HIV cases has now reached 1:1

(2.)the increasing infection patterns are strongest for 15-29 year old females, and for 30-49 year old males

(3.) in 2002, AIDS was the leading cause of death among women of childbearing age (15-45 years)

The report also contends that if Belize is to approach the Targets of MDG 6[1], it will need to implement educational programs and campaigns that are effective in changing people’s attitudes towards HIV/AIDS (p. 23). This finding directly correlates with the objectives of this research, in that the major initiative is to increase HIV/AIDS Awareness and Prevention, through radio broadcasts in the various languages spoken in the Blue Creek area and surrounding communities.

The report further observes that following the establishment of the National AIDS Commission in 2000, the national response to HIV/AIDS has been better coordinated. Since that time, district-based HIV/AIDS Committees have been established countrywide (p. 23). This is interesting to note in that the respective HIV/AIDS Committee for Toledo could provide valuable insight that could supplement and enhance this particular project. Currently, the major AIDS prevention strategies in use are: education and information programs (in schools, in collaboration with other groups, and by way of mass media campaigns), voluntary counseling and testing (VCT), and condom distribution (p. 24). Thus, very little to address the HIV/AIDS prevention in rural communities has been achieved. This reinforces the significance of this radio initiative to particularly vulnerable communities such as those in rural Toledo.

The International HUMANA PEOPLE TO PEOPLE Movement. (2007). Fighting for Marginalized Societies Poverty Alleviation in ToledoBelize. Retrieved on February 22, 2008, from

The Humana People to People Movement is one of the few organizations assisting the rural communities of Toledo to meet the Millennium Development Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS Malaria and Other Diseases. The project was born on the 8th of December 2007 and includes the strengthening the economy of the families, HIV and AIDS programs, Malaria, Income Generating Activities, Health and Environmental Conservation. It is interesting to note, that two of objectives of this project directly correlate with two of the major issues of the Blue Creek Radio Project. Thus, a potential for a strong partnership exists between the Humana People to People Movement, Tumul K’in and the Galen group.

Help For Progress Belize. (2008). Poverty Reduction & Gender Equity in Rural ToledoProject. Retrieved on February 23, 2008, from

The Poverty Reduction & Gender Equity in Rural Toledo Project is one of the most recent initiatives related to this research. The goal of this initiative is to contribute to the improvement of people’s lives and to reduce poverty in the Toledo District; (58.44% indigence; literacy rate 62.18%) through the provision of services in the areas of health (eye care and rehabilitation), education (intercultural), good governance and advocacy. This goes on to include agricultural and other productive activities, and community development. This initiative will address pressing issues such as HIV/AIDS, gender equity, human rights and the environment.

The Project also promises to support communities and organizations to respond effectively to the HIV pandemic through programmes of prevention, care and support. The Consortium will partner with the many organizations addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic to disseminate information about interventions, preventions, and services available. Thus, this project, like the Humana Project, is another potential partner for Tumul K’in and the Galen group.

Environmental Responsibility

Toledo Institute for Development and Environment. (2005). Programs managed by the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment. Retrieved February 24, 2008, from

The Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE) was founded in response to urgent conservation needs. TIDE has several programs, one relating to this project, which is to educate local people on conservation issues and the management of protected areas. “TIDE has looked to ecotourism as a viable and alternative source of income for the hunters and fishermen of Toledo who were once engaged in resource extractive practices”

TIDE has also won international awards—the2002 UNDP Equator Prize “in recognition of outstanding community efforts for poverty reduction and biodiversity conservation”, which was presented at the 2002 Johannesburg Summit for Sustainable Development and the 2000 Award for “Ecotourism Excellence”, presented at the Non-profits in Travel Conference held in Washington DC.

TIDE co-manages the Port Honduras Marine Reserve, Payne's Creek National Park, works to preserve watersheds in Toledo, and promotes ecotourism on a local level. It also has an EnvironmentalResourceCenter which is to help educate the people of Toledo.

Toledo Ecotourism Association. (2008). Services of the Toledo Ecotourism Association. Retrieved February 24, 2008, from

The Toledo Ecotourism Association (TEA) is owned and operated by an association of Mopan, Kek’chi and GarifunaVillages. It enables the local people to plan, control and profit directly from ecotourism. TEA focuses on keeping tourist group size low to prevent environmental impacts.

Domestic Abuse

Pan-American Health Organization. (2007). Violence Against Women. Retrieved February 22, 2008, from

Caribbean Association for Feminist Research & Action. (2006). The Intimate Enemy: Gender Violence and Reproductive Health. Panos Briefing no. 27 (March 1998) Retrieved February 22, 2008, from

"Today, another woman dies, today another woman cries, today another woman's life is jeopardized by domestic violence, today we must stand together because our own sisters are in danger and have been in danger too long. Domestic violence affects a woman at the core of her human dignity, which is so essential to who we are and who we can become." These were the words of Dr. Carissa Etienne, the Assistant Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Gender violence causes more death and disability among women aged 15 to 44 than cancer, Malaria, traffic accidents or even war. It covers violence against women throughout every stage of their life cycle and is a timeless health and human rights problem.

According to data gathered in 2003, there were 799 reported cases of domestic abuse in Belize. The Ministry of Human Development and Women’s Department, along with several other organizations have begun joint efforts to fight this social ill. This is a problem plaguing not only Belize and Toledo, but the entire world. Violence against women is a major public health problem, as injuries sustained by women and young girls because of physical and sexual abuse may be extremely serious, increasing their risk of poor health. Most domestic violence cases go unreported unless the woman is really battered and wants to get out of the relationship.

Women cannot lend their employment or creative ideas fully when they are burdened with the physical and psychological scars of abuse. When one considers that women in poor countries carry out most productive labor and that women make up two-thirds of the unpaid labor force, the indirect costs of gender violence to development are very high indeed. This is so common that now young women think that their husbands do not love them if they don’t hit them or abuse them in that way. We also have to see that it is now becoming popular for women to hit men as well, but most men will not report this due to their pride.

Several governmental and non-governmental organizations in the region provide medical, legal and counseling services for victims of rape and domestic violence. We plan to research this problem in order to understand it and then spread the awareness of the problem so that we can help people being affected.

Animal Treatment

McDougall, Lorna. (1995). National Organization for the Prevention of Child Abuse Belize, Central America. Retrieved February 25, 2008, from

The proposed mass eradication—using strychnine-baited chicken meat—of stray animals in the Belmopan area, by the Belmopangovernment, is set to begin on August 26.

Strychnine poisoning is a notoriously cruel and violent method of killing. It induces immediate uneasiness, restlessness, anxiety, muscle twitching, and rigidity of the neck, followed by convulsions, characterized by sudden muscle contractions. The animal becomes hypersensitive, and the slightest noise or touch can trigger convulsions. Animals who are poisoned with strychnine suffer severe pain before dying.

According to the 2000 Report of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Panel on Euthanasia—the veterinary medical authority on euthanasia—strychnine is an unacceptable agent of euthanasia for animals because it “causes violent convulsions and painful muscle contractions.”

Broadcasting, (2008). Writing Public Service Announcements.RetrievedFebruary 24, 2008, from

This article provides a thorough overview of how to create a successful public service announcement. It emphasizes several areas of the creation process that must be given careful consideration, in order to craft a message that will be most appropriate and effective when it is aired.

The most important part of developing a strong announcement, as with most forms of public communication, is clearly defining your target audience. “Remember, to the audience, a public service announcement is just another commercial, so the production values must have a similar quality to every other ad being aired on that particular station.” It must be clear that the announcement is not selling anything, but rather attempting to raise awareness because, “…there is a fine line between shameless self-promotion and a legitimate message for the public good.” This distinction can be achieved by focusing carefully on the language, focus and content of the message. Given that we will be airing it in a highly diverse community, translating the message into local dialects will greatly improve the messages’ connection to the listener, “…invoking an emotional response from the listener in order to make them act on that emotion.” This is the essential goal behind any public service announcement.

The focus of our message will need to be clear and concise. “By narrowing the message’s focus, the audience is more likely to understand it and associate with it.” Public service announcements are usually aired under strict time constraints and must, therefore, get straight to the heart of the issue and the desired action that is expected of the listeners; sparing just enough time at the end to mention who has provided the message. Timeliness of the message is also a concern when it comes to crafting the announcement. “Non-timely announcements are those that may inform the listener about a specific long-term cause, such as helping to protect the environment.” This will be the style of our message, rather than a timely announcement that has a set expiration date. Our message will aim to have a long shelf-life and value that will out-last our stay in Belize.

By following the guidelines defined in this article, and acknowledging both the “dos” and “don’ts” of a non-commercial radio message, we should be able to produce a public service announcement that will greatly benefit the Blue Creek community.


Overall Contribution of Literature Review to Proposed Research Problem

The overall objective of this literature review was to unearth any significant existing research that correlates with the usage of radio broadcasts to disseminate essential information regarding the following issues (1.) HIV/AIDS, (2.) Domestic Abuse, (3.) Environmental Responsibility, and (4.) Animal Treatment in rural Toledo. As a result, the review has revealed that only few projects are currently operational in the area and that in the past, such projects have been virtually nonexistent.

In conclusion, this literature review has introduced the authors to several adequate methodological approaches and techniques that could effectively be applied to more conclusively address the proposed research problem.

[1] Millennium Development Goal 6 : Combat HIV/AIDS Malaria and Other Diseases. Source: