BBC Media Action: Transforming lives through media

Johor Bahru, Malaysia – The BBC Media Action, the BBC’s international charity, aims to inspire change and action using media and communication. The organisation said that last year alone, they have reached over 130 million people in some of the world’s most impoverished and vulnerable regions.

Vichheka Sao, BBC Media Action’s Country Manager in Cambodia, notes the unique challenges faced by the country’s predominantly rural population, heavily reliant on farming and fishing. With climate change impacting their livelihoods, Sao emphasises the importance of tailored approaches to address different community needs.

“We bring role models to talk about solutions,” says Vichheka Sao. In the popular TV series “Don’t Wait for Rain,” BBC Media Action provides simple and replicable techniques for adapting to climate change, encouraging communities to embrace new strategies.

As BBC Media Action continues its transformative work in Indonesia and Cambodia, it remains committed to bridging the gap between media and meaningful change, proving that communication can shape societies and improve lives.

They produced a television comedy-drama series, “Sok San Family.” Premiering on June 19, 2022, the 13-episode series delves into the ups and downs of a modern Cambodian family, addressing the challenges its members face as they navigate the complexities of the 21st century.

The “Klahan9 SPACE” project, which includes the Sok San Family TV program, digital content, and community outreach activities, aims to equip young Cambodians with knowledge, skills, confidence, and networks. The initiative also collaborates with local partners, such as the Youth Council of Cambodia and the Youth Resource Development Programme.

BBC Media Action’s work in Cambodia has been awarded a ‘Making A Difference Award’ by the ESOMAR Foundation in 2022.

Indonesia: Kembali Ke Hutan (Return to the Forest)

In 2019, BBC Media Action embarked on a transformative journey in Indonesia with “Kembali Ke Hutan,” a project centred on producing engaging digital and TV programming. The initiative is designed for young people in the country. It aims to foster informed discussions on environmental issues to strengthen governance and promote sustainable green growth.

“We worked with the second largest TV station in Indonesia, SCTV, and created a drama series, visualising roles that people can play. We combined the drama with a discussion program and digital content, such as Instagram, TikTok and YouTube posts, to reach young urban people,” says Helena Rea, BBC Media Action’s Senior Project Manager in Indonesia.

“We also use a close and habitual approach, targeted directly to the indigenous peoples. We created audiovisual content about rights, which is the road to their recognition, the thing they need. The second issue is various livelihood models the community can adapt for their needs,” she said.

The content resonated with audiences by presenting solutions in a relatable and sustainable manner, leading to 65% of viewers taking tangible actions. Rea said even though the videos are short, five- to seven-minute videos, “it acts as stimuli, and they can talk about it for up to four hours. With that short video as stimuli, community members are willing to discuss what they can do collectively, and inspires collective actions within the community”.

While the project has achieved significant success, Rachel McGuin, Partnerships Director for Asia and the Pacific, emphasises the need for ongoing community discussions to drive behavioural change. “If people are going to change their behaviour, they need to talk about it, and we need to hear different points of view,” she states. (nsh)

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