Innovative campaigns to promote quality food for pregnant and breastfeeding women in Burkina Faso and Mali

Baby says: “More vegetables and fortified foods, less fried foods“!

This is one piece of advice given by the baby star from the “Bébé kodi” (baby says what) awareness-raising campaign spots. The baby reacts directly from its mother’s womb to the nutritional advice given by a midwife to its parents.

It is on this original, playful tone that a nationwide social communication campaign for behaviour change was launched in Mali in November 2020. A month later, a similar campaign was launched in Burkina Faso.

These two innovative, unprecedented campaigns stand out for their multi-channel approach, simultaneously mobilising the media, cell phones, social networks, and outreach activities. This strategy maximises the impact on the women and men targeted, to improve knowledge and foster widespread adoption of recommended practices.

These two campaigns aim to implement a range of activities to promote a clear message: during pregnancy and breastfeeding, eating a varied, balanced diet is essential for the health of mothers and their children.


Poster developed as part of the “Bébé kodi” campaign on women’s nutrition in Mali

Under the auspices of the Burkinabe and Malian Ministries of Health, in partnership with GRET as part of the Meriem project (Mobilizing Sahelian Companies for Innovative Large-Scale Responses to Malnutrition), these two campaigns are being implemented for a period of three to four months. They were designed by the Meriem project and developed with the help of local communication agencies, and the involvement of a key project partner, Ogilvy (communication agency).

Baby takes you on a guided tour of the activities

The campaign messages are disseminated via numerous complementary media in short, pragmatic messages: “less sodas, more water“. Sandrine Guissou and Maïmouna Diakité, GRET’s two awareness-raising officers in Burkina Faso and Mali, explain that “the objective is to broadcast the same messages simultaneously through different communication channels for better credibility. In this way, the messages are widely shared and discussed, which maximizes their chances of being memorised and put into practice.”

Film-debate sessions in neighbourhoods and health centres in the two capitals are organised by local associations supported by GRET. Films created especially for the campaigns are shown to small groups of pregnant and breastfeeding women and their husbands, separately or as a couple. These screenings initiate rich exchanges on dietary practices. “[…] the well-being of children cannot be ensured without the support of both parents, it is up to both parents to ensure the evolution of the pregnancy and motherhood. I learned a lot today. […] I am appealing to all men to become aware,” said one father at a film-debate in the Torokorobougou district of Bamako.

WhatsApp mailing lists will also be created with film-debate participants to share films, campaign messages, and encourage peer-to-peer sharing.

The mobilisation of participants in the film-debates is facilitated by influential people in the neighbourhoods (neighbourhood leaders, imams, representatives of local associations, and health workers) who themselves sometimes act as spokespersons for the campaign messages.

Short versions of the films shown at the film-debates were also broadcast on national and local TV channels and interactive radio programmes were organised. In Mali, a mini-series was created and broadcast, with 3 one-minute episodes each. Viewers can follow the parents’ adventures and identify with them. You can watch these on the Youtube Baby Kodi channel, and see the Burkina spot here.

In Burkina Faso, talented, committed slam artist Malika la slamazone agreed to be an ambassador for the awareness campaign. “The well-being of future generations is at stake,” she says in one of her campaign posts on her Facebook page. She composed a special slam on the concepts of a balanced, varied diet, which has become very popular and well known in Burkina Faso, thereby enabling a  larger target audience to be reached.

Malika la slamazone, ambassador of the Burkina campaign, at the launch workshop in Ouagadougou on December 4, 2020

Mobile telephony also makes it possible to massively sensitize the population through the VIAMO service in Mali and the AlloLaafia service in Burkina-Faso. The latter enables personalised advice to be sent via text message to pregnant and breastfeeding women on their diet and recommended care. The subscription, which is free, is also offered to pregnant and breastfeeding women’s husbands.

Finally, these two social communication campaigns aim to raise awareness among men, who are generally unaware of and not very invested in the major support role they have to play in their wives’ nutrition and health. As the baby says, “Get it, dads?”