Soul City: IHDC was initiated in 1992 in order to harness the power of the mass media for health and development through BCC interventions. It has done this successfully by using a concept known as "edutainment," entertaining while educating. This enables Soul City: IHDC, through radio and TV dramas, to access audiences at prime time and thus reach the maximum possible audience. The Soul City series have dealt with 15 health and development issues to date. Approximately 60% of the content has dealt with aspects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Goal of the Practice
  • Using a health promotion approach to HIV/AIDS, focusing on creating an enabling environment for people to make healthy choices in relation to HIV.
  • Strengthening community efficacy to provide support, shifting community norms and tackling many related issues such as alcohol, violence against women, and parenting which in turn have an impact on the drivers of the epidemic.
  • To provide for a 3% reduction in HIV prevalence across 9 Southern African countries (South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi).
Core Components
  • Mass Media Initiative 1: Seven series of Soul City TV, consisting of 13 episodes each; Seven series of Soul City radio, each series consisting of 60 episodes in nine languages; Twenty information booklets with a combined distribution of over 35 million copies.
  • Mass Media Initiative 2: Three series of Soul Buddyz TV, consisting of 26-part half-hour dramas aimed at 8-12 year olds and their parents; Three series of a 26-part radio magazine show in nine languages; Three million copies of three parenting booklets; Life skills books for younger school goers.
  • Initiatives on the ground: Life skills materials to all grade 7 and 9 students in South Africa; Interactive educational training materials on HIV/AIDS, water and sanitation, violence against women and mother and child health distributed nationally; Training to over 3 million individuals, in partnership with 18 NGOs nationally; Formation of over 2,200 clubs for children, "Soul Buddyz Clubs", taking forward the messages of Soul Buddyz to the school level and complemented by a weekly TV series, "Buddyz on the Move", which feature the clubs.
Noteworthy Results
  • Soul City was quoted as the leading source of information in South Africa on HIV/AIDS 72% - more than double the next most quoted intervention.
  • Soul City's multimedia intervention reached 70% of all South Africans over 16 years, (35 million people) more than any other social change intervention. This includes 65% of rural people and 50% of people without any formal education.
  • Soul Buddyz was the first series independently judged to be the most successful family television show ever produced in South Africa. It has been rebroadcast 4 times.
  • 67% of 8-12 year olds had watched, read or listened to Soul Buddyz. (approximately 4 million children)
Lessons Learned
  • Soul City has been successful in reaching large proportions of their target population and available documents have demonstrated change in knowledge, attitudes (willing to provide care to someone with HIV) and some behaviors (eg higher percentage of those exposed to program have had HIV testing; health literacy has improved, talking to others about HIV).
  • Comparisons between those exposed and those not exposed are expressed as percentages but if the % differences are significant it is not documented. Soul City was also related to increased awareness of community organizations and to participating in community action about HIV and AIDS.
  • Reach of Soul Buddyz was not uniform across all age groups with those in the 12-15 age range having the highest exposure. Ways to reach the younger children need to continue to be explored. The Soul Buddyz Club is likely to be important in this regard.
Focus Areas
Implemented By
The Soul City Institute for Health and Development Communication (SC IHDC)
Participating Organization
South Africa
Target Population
  • Adults (over 18)
  • Adolescents (ages 13-17)
  • Children (ages 2-12)
  • General Public
  • People Living with HIV (PLWH)
> 50000
Implementation Years
02/1992 - ongoing