Literacy Bridge Kicks Off Its Integrated Health & Agriculture Program

Sep 30, 2011, 12:34 ET from Literacy Bridge

Seattle-based non-profit launches program to improve the health of 24,000 women and at-risk children in 75 low-literate communities across rural Ghana

SEATTLE, Sept. 30, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Literacy Bridge is responding to the need for a comprehensive solution in global health and hunger by kicking off its Health & Agriculture Communication for Women & Children Program, which is designed to improve the health of 24,000 women and at-risk children in 75 low-literate communities across rural Ghana. The program utilizes an integrated, cost-effective communications strategy that conveys critical health messages and farming best practices on-demand through the organization's network of low-cost audio computers, or Talking Books.

Literacy Bridge's program specifically targets pregnant women, mothers of under-five children, and family members. Working with local experts from UNICEF, Ghana Health Service (GHS) and Ghana Ministry of Food & Agriculture (MoFA), Literacy Bridge will produce engaging messages created in local languages to address topics such as breastfeeding, hand-washing and proper sowing of seeds for the most nutritious and lucrative crops.

At the heart of the program is an innovative and robust audio touch-pad computer that provides on-demand access to life-changing and life-saving information for people without literacy skills or access to electricity. Audio libraries, created specifically for Talking Books, include local language messages that help smallholder farmers improve their crop yields and help new mothers to protect their infants from disease.

Additionally, the program will set new standards for demonstrating cost-effectiveness through transparent accounting and rigorous evaluation. This, along with the Talking Book's innovative technology, enables the Health & Agriculture Communication for Women & Children Program to stand apart from other global development programs, and is Literacy Bridge's commitment to this year's Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). It directly addresses three of the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which call for specific health improvements by 2015: reducing child deaths, reducing maternal mortality and slowing the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Moreover, health is increasingly viewed as fundamental to the first Millennium Development Goal, eradicating poverty and extreme hunger.

Currently, Literacy Bridge is spearheading its efforts in several villages in Ghana, and has established existing partnerships with local experts in health, agriculture and education to help ensure that Talking Book lessons are relevant and actionable. Over 90 percent of Talking Book users within these communities have applied new practices based on downloaded lessons. New farming practices have led to significantly increased crop production, resulting in a threefold return on investment within a single year. Furthermore, Talking Books have been distributed to hundreds of primary school children and their families, helping to promote literacy learning through a variety of interactive reading lessons.  

"Literacy Bridge's success in delivering critical health and agriculture messages on our Talking Book platform has been largely due to our collaboration with businesses, foundations, governments, and other nonprofit organizations," said Cliff Schmidt, executive director of Literacy Bridge. "I am excited by how much further our impact will extend as we implement our health and agriculture program, and as we continue adding funding partners and collaborating with fellow CGI members."

Mr. Schmidt was awarded a complimentary membership to CGI by President Bill Clinton, following his selection as a winner of the 2010 Microsoft Alumni Foundation Integral Fellows Award.

About Literacy Bridge
Literacy Bridge is a nonprofit organization established in 2007 to improve the health, education and income of impoverished rural families through knowledge. To serve this mission, the organization has developed the Talking Book, an innovative, low-cost, digital audio computer for people to build their literacy skills and for those who are illiterate to gain access to locally relevant information so that they can learn new practices to better their lives. Literacy Bridge partners with local governments, businesses, and nonprofits to develop and distribute such content.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Literacy Bridge, please visit  

Forrest Carman
Literacy Bridge

SOURCE Literacy Bridge