Uganda Radio Mini-Series Neighbors Wins Best Serial Drama


The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Communication Programs (CCP) has won a Global Media Award by the Population Institute for Best Serial Drama. The annual awards honor those who have contributed a greater public awareness of the various challenges related to population and reproductive health. The winning radio serial drama, Neighbors, was produced in Uganda as part of a national campaign to convince young married men to have smaller families by using modern family planning methods with their wives.

“This is a great honor,” said Susan Krenn, Director of CCP. “It’s not easy to produce effective entertainment-education programming, but the research confirms that Neighbors got it right. In this case, the key was careful formative research and the involvement of stakeholders in program development along with the use of radio to catalyze discussion in households and communities all over Uganda.”

With an average of seven children per woman, Uganda has one of the highest fertility rates and population growth rates in the world. The radio mini-series was designed as an innovative way of communicating with men about the population crisis in Uganda. Neighbors revolves around 2 key characters performed by well-known comedians: Bernard (who has planned his family and has few children) and Fred (who has not planned his large family).

Through humor, the drama shows the problems faced by a man with many children and the relatively stress-free life of a man with a small family.

Neighbors was developed as part of a national communication campaign implemented by the Uganda Ministry of Health in partnership with Health Communication Partnership-Uganda (HCP), a project managed by CCP and funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Neighbors was produced in 6 languages and carried on 12 radio stations over a 6-month period this year.

“We are delighted with this recognition for Neighbors which has reached an estimated 1.6 million Ugandan men. Blending mass media and local communication helps achieve impact on a scale that is impossible with community mobilization alone,” commented Cheryl Lettenmaier, director of the HCP project in Uganda. “The campaign changed the attitudes of nearly 1 million Ugandans about ideal family size and resulted in almost 500,000 visits to family planning clinics for contraceptive methods. Now that’s scale!”

With this award, the Center for Communication Programs at Hopkins has won 16 Global Media Awards in the past 21 years in a variety of categories including Best Combined Media Effort on Population Issues, Best Individual Reporting Effort and Excellence in Population Reporting.

The Population Institute is an international non-profit that educates policymakers and the public about population, and seeks to promote universal access to family planning information, education, and services. The Global Media Awards are awarded with the goal of drawing attention to global population issues. Entries are evaluated on their potential to educate and inform policy-makers or the general public about issues related to population growth.


Public Affairs media contact for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons at 410-955-7619 or

Contact for the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs: Judy Heck at 410-659-6300 or

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