As drug and substance abuse has spread on the mainland of Tanzania, in 2014, The Tanzanian Drug Commission endorsed a baseline study to capture the level of knowledge children had on illicit drugs and consumption.  The findings guided the development of a youth campaign ‘Ishi Huru’ (Live Free) with the aim of providing young people with information on what ‘street names’ formally mean, what drug use is, the dangers, causes and effects.

Engaging a local theatre group with a popular musician, the team participated in a three day training hosted by The Tanzanian Drug Commission and Sober House Founder, Suleiman Mauly, before piloting the theatre in education programmes in 10 schools.

The choice of media grabbed the children’s attention before dividing them into discussion groups.  AIO produced tools to assist the peer mentors to facilitate the group work and to reinforce the messaging that had been learned during the theatre performance.

Four weeks later, the AIO team visited the schools with the same baseline questionnaire to gauge the impact of the programme and to see how the children had retained the information.  The results showed a significant increase in knowledge and awareness.

From observing behaviour during group work, some children were unable to speak amongst their peers but requested further information with specific indication to rehabilitation services and counselling predominantly for older family members.  It was agreed that the creation of a mobile application would be a way for children to promote access to information via mobile in a private, safe space to their peers and elders.  The application was built in kind by Push Mobile using a USSD platform.

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