Tanzania: Radio’s young, aspiring reporters

“I never expected that one day in my life I would chance to interview a government leader. I do not believe that I have confidently made it through the Young reporters Program. I do not fear to interview any leader and I’m looking forward to interview many leaders as much as possible after completing my standard seven exams in September 2013,” said 13-year-old Halleluya Benjamini. Courtesy of MYCN

“I never expected that one day in my life I would [have the] chance to interview a government leader,” said 13-year-old Halleluya Benjamini. “I do not fear to interview any leader and I’m looking forward to interview many leaders as much as possible after completing my standard seven exams.”         Courtesy of MYCN

Daudi Frank enters Radio 5’s Arusha studios wearing a baggy turtleneck sweater. His trousers are stained with dirt, his plastic sandals caked with mud. The sixteen-year-old squeezes in his thin frame beside other young people from the youth outreach group Mkombozi [Saviour].

Linus Kilembu is the host of the radio program Mlango wa watoto [Children’s door]. He welcomes kids on his program every week. Mr. Kilembu asks Daudi how he copes with living on the streets of Arusha.

Daudi replies, “It’s cold at night sleeping on the stairs at [the] football stadium. But when I wake up in the morning, I listen to the radio and it makes me happy.”

Daudi has lived on the streets for the last five years. His father passed away when Daudi was nine, and his grandmother could not support him. He had no money for school fees, so was forced to leave school. Now, he makes his way every morning to Soko kuu, the city’s central market, where he earns a handful of shillings by selling plastic bags and bars of soap.

Daudi says: “I want to learn, so when Mkombozi workers approached me on the street, I joined the mobile school. Then they asked me to speak on the radio. I think I have a talent for broadcasting.”

Leah Kimaro is the program coordinator at Mkombozi, a group that reaches out to youth living on the streets. She recognized that Daudi had confidence in his own expression. So Ms. Kimaro asked him to join Mtandao wa wanahabari watoto Tanzania [Young Reporters Network of Tanzania]. The network was founded by the UN Children’s Fund, or UNICEF, and the South Africa-based Children’s Radio Foundation. It aims to equip youth across the country with media skills.

Ms. Kimaro says, “Daudi is a special kid. He’s the only one who has lasted up to now in our radio program. Others have dropped out, but he’s continuing.”

The Young Reporters Network empowers youth to make real change in society. With a regular time slot every week on radio stations across the country, young people can share their views on issues like child labour, abuse, and access to education.

Shaban Maganga organizes weekly radio and television programs in Mwanza, a city on the shores of Lake Victoria. Sayari ya watoto [Children’s Planet] airs on Metro FM, while Baraza la watoto [Junior Council] is broadcast on Barmedas TV. The shows are aimed at disadvantaged eight- to sixteen-year-olds.

Mr. Maganga says, “The kids do everything themselves. They record interviews, prepare scripts and edit audio. Then they go live on air and present the program.”

Mr. Maganga is the executive director of Mwanza Youth and Children’s Network, or MYCN. MYCN teamed up with UNICEF to use radio to get young people’s messages to the public, key decision-makers and the government.

UNICEF estimates that radio reaches about 70 per cent of Tanzania’s population. But young people seldom get the opportunity to speak out about their issues, concerns, experiences and interests in a way that engages the general public. According to UNICEF, “The Young Reporters Network gives them that rare opportunity.”

Both Mkombozi and MYCN are running into funding problems as they try to keep the radio shows on the air. Ms. Kimaro says their funding ran out last year, while Mr. Maganga sees a challenge keeping the program going beyond May 2014.

Daudi says: “I hope to go back into the studio soon. I’m interested in kids’ programs because I feel they speak to me as a youth. I admire Linus and wish I could be a radio presenter like him one day.”

For more information on the Young Reporters Network, please go to UNICEF Tanzania.

To listen to the young reporters’ radio programs, please visit its Soundcloud.

Click here to watch a video created by UNICEF to highlight the work of Tanzania’s Young Reporters Network.

Published online @ Farm Radio Weekly

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Empowering Local Journalists Strengthens The Media: Internews In Kenya

Courtesy of Mummytales.com

Courtesy of Mummytales.com

NAIROBI, Kenya - Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama is a 35-year-old mother and journalist. The idea for her popular website, Mummytales.com, was conceived back in 2011, just before she was to give birth to her first child Kitty, now two-years-old.

“I intend to chronicle the ups-and-downs in this blog. Share my random thoughts and experiences during the remainder of my pregnancy, as I look forward to the responsibilities of motherhood into the world of diapers, bibs, oohhs and aahhs,” Wanyama wrote in 2011. “Here, I will carry on capturing my thoughts, fears, feelings, opinions, experiences and milestones.”

Wanyama created an online resource for Kenyan mothers to connect and share stories. Due to combining both passions: motherhood and journalism, she was offered a chance to attend a digital media workshop by Internews, an international media development organization, and accepted.

“Mummy Tales is an interactive forum between this mom and fellow Kenyan moms, as well as moms from around the world who share their experiences about their kids,” Wanyama wrote on her Facebook page, which has 1,830 followers. The website receives 10,000 hits a month.

Local Voices, Global Change

Internews educates local journalists, around the world, how to inform the public with integrity and independence. In Kenya, Internews puts a strong emphasis on digital media reporting on health issues such as maternal and child health, malaria, HIV/AIDS and reproductive health. This training added to Wanyama’s media skill set.

“I feel empowered now to do multimedia stories. I have traditionally been a print journalist, but I know I can combine elements of audio, video and graphics with text to create a good story,” she said.

James Ratemo, Internews’ digital media trainer, sees these trainings as a capacity building exercise, strengthening the media. More than 1,286 Kenyan journalists have been trained by Internews in its office located in central Nairobi.

“It’s improving the media sector in Kenya. Now we have a corps of skilled journalists who share information amongst us and each other. These are journalists the public can depend on,” Ratemo said.

Last year, Wanyama had her second child, Ello, now one-year-old. This coincided with her website being nominated for a “Best Topical Blog” award by the Bloggers Association of Kenya. She’s been nominated again this year. Wanyama maintains a relationship with her trainer, Ratemo, and others, at Internews.

“I visit the media resource center often. I also borrow equipment to enable me work on my stories [camera, microphone, studio time]. I am also in touch with trainers who help me on my stories,” she added.

Youth Radio, Health Network

Nohline Akinyi, 27, is a communications consultant living in Nairobi. She attended a digital media workshop back in 2012. She’s one of the founders of Early Life Radio, an online radio program that was produced and hosted by East African youth. It dealt with many issues faced by kids, so the training helped Akinyi in her radio script writing ability.

“We got to do practical field assignments and at the end of it I managed to produce my first online health story,” Akinyi said.

The relationship between Internews and its trainees extends beyond the boardroom and into the field. It acts as a support network for local journalists. When looking for information or experts in a certain field, trainees can contact Internews and receive the name and phone number of someone who can help with their research into a particular subject.

Even Akinyi, who no longer works as a journalist, can continue to use its services as Internews alumni. She still receives mentorship from Ratemo and contributes to an online health resource called K-HUG, the Kenya Health User Generator.

“I can say the skills I garnered at Internews are incredible and it has hugely benefited me, even now as a communications consultant,” Akinyi said.

Published online @ Huffington Post Canada

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Tanzania’s Farming Cooperatives Struggle to Bear Fruit

John Daffi on his piece of land that is part of a cooperative that began in 1963 in Upper Kitete. However, recent attempts by the government to revive cooperatives have been a failure. Credit: Adam Bemma/IPS

John Daffi on his piece of land that is part of a cooperative that began in 1963 in Upper Kitete. However, recent attempts by the government to revive cooperatives have been a failure. Credit: Adam Bemma/IPS

ARUSHA, Tanzania, Apr 4 2014 (IPS) – John Daffi climbs to the top of a hill overlooking a scenic Rift Valley wall and the Ngorongoro forest, where wildlife migrates between the world famous Ngorongoro crater and Tanzania’s Lake Manyara. Daffi, 59, looks down upon his family’s farm below and reminisces about the time his father first brought him here as a boy.

“Upper Kitete was a model farming village set up by the government of Tanzania. My father received a call while he was in Arusha from his brother in Karatu telling him to apply. We were selected as one of the first 100 families,” Daffi told IPS.

In 1962, British agriculturalist Antony Ellman came to Tanzania and from 1963 to 1966 helped establish the Upper Kitete Cooperative Society on 2,630 hectares located in the Karatu district of northern Tanzania, about 160 kilometres from the city of Arusha.

“It was a very exciting time as Tanzania just received independence and it was a real opportunity for aspiring farmers to have access to great land,” Ellman told IPS.

Daffi’s father, Lucas, relocated his family from Mbulu village in Manyara region to Kitete village in Arusha region. The villagers selected began a social experiment, and distinguished themselves from other nearby villages with the name Upper Kitete.

The cooperative movement pre-dates independence. Professor Amon Z. Mattee, from Tanzania’s Sokoine University of Agriculture, told IPS that the prosperity of cooperatives in the 1960s made the government want to create a level playing field for all.

“Coops started in the 1930s for some of the cash crops like coffee and cotton and for many years up to the time of independence in 1961. They were really member-based and offered excellent services in terms of research, extension, inputs, profitable markets and even social services like education for members’ children,” Mattee said.

Tanzania’s founding President ‘Mwalimu [Teacher]‘ Julius Nyerere started the village settlement programme where farmers were encouraged to work cooperatively hoping they would prosper economically. Eighteen months after independence in 1963, the Upper Kitete Cooperative Society was born and it continues to this day.

“The soil was so fertile. We began farming cereal crops like wheat and barley. Now we’re much smaller scale and farm mainly maize and beans, our staple crops,” Daffi said.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Tanzania remains primarily a rural country with an agriculture-based economy that employs the majority of the national labour force. Its economy is still highly dependent on predominantly rain-fed agriculture that contributes an estimated 30 percent to the GDP and accounts for 64 percent of all export earnings.

Its main traditional export crops are coffee, cashews, cotton, sugar, tobacco, tea, sisal and spices from Zanzibar. Maize is the main food crop alongside sorghum, millet, rice, wheat, beans, cassava, bananas and potatoes, according to the FAO.

“For the first 10 years Upper Kitete was on an upward path. People worked together willingly and life was improving for everyone. They continually had better yields, built bigger homes and the services improved as a result,” Ellman said.

In 1974, the dream faded as Nyerere forced reluctant Tanzanians from urban and rural areas to move into villages causing environmental and organisational strain to existing villages like Upper Kitete. At this time, its population ballooned from 210 to 1,200 residents.

A 2001 study by academics Rock Rohde and Thea Hilhorst called ‘A Profile of environmental change in the Lake Manyara Basin, Tanzania’ examines the stress put on the land due to government directives.

“Ujamaa [Nyerere’s brand of socialism] aimed to move the entire Tanzanian rural population into cooperative villages and achieved this under ‘Operation Vijijini’ when land was redistributed and several million peasants and pastoralists resettled in new, more compact villages, often under duress. [It] had a profound social and economic effect, especially on the highlands of Karatu where wealthy commercial farmers were deprived of their land holdings,” the study states.

Since then, Daffi has witnessed the land at Upper Kitete become scarce as it was divided into smaller portions for the growing community. This village of 500 people in 1963 is now a town of nearly 5,000. Now, the cooperative produces much less than it previously did because it has less land.

“Even though the population has increased, the land hasn’t. Every inch of it is cultivated,” Daffi said.

Mattee researches farmers’ organisations in Tanzania. He said recent attempts by the government to revive cooperatives, like the 1997 Cooperative Development Policy, were a failure.

“The government has since the 1990s tried to revive the cooperative sector by introducing new policies, but the coops were already too weak and farmers had completely lost faith in them,” Mattee said.

Ellman reflects on his time at Upper Kitete with great nostalgia. But he realises they face the problem all remaining agricultural cooperatives in Tanzania face — a lack of unity and insufficient resources to support the fast-growing population.

“I keep in touch with many people at Upper Kitete and I visited again in 2012. They’ve asked me to record its history,” Ellman said. “It’s been difficult. With such a dense population they need to adopt more intensive forms of land use and even diversify out of agriculture. Tanzanians are resourceful people. They can do it.”

Published online @ Inter Press Service

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Media Development Training by VIKES Finland and MISA Tanzania

Roti Achimpota

Mambo Jambo Radio journalist Rotlinde Achimpota edits her online research story at the training     Courtesy of Peik Johansson

VIKES is a Finnish acronym which stands for the Finnish Foundation for Media, Communication and Development. This organization provides training to journalists and educators working in the media field. Along with the Media Institute of Southern Africa’s Tanzania branch, or MISA-TAN, VIKES hosted an online investigative news gathering workshop March 17-19, 2014 at the University of Dar es Salaam Computing Centre, Arusha campus.

The three-day training was hosted by Finnish journalist Peik Johansson. I was invited to lend a hand to Johansson and MISA-TAN’s Research Officer Gasirigwa Sengiyumva. With the blessing of my NGO, Farm Radio International, my task was to provide support to the 14 journalists, as very few of them had any experience with web research. Johansson created a useful blog for the trainees with links to investigative journalism websites and general information called Arusha Journalists Investigating Online. This website is a useful tool for any journalist interested in investigative research.

When I was contacted a few weeks ago by Sengiyumva, who was my in-country coordinator at Journalists for Human Rights, or JHR, he asked me if I knew any local journalists who would benefit from this kind of training. I replied, yes, in fact, I do know two would benefit tremendously from it. The first person I suggested was Rotlinde Achimpota, a journalist at Mambo Jambo Radio, or MJ FM, who I’ve worked with extensively over the last year in Arusha.

Capacity building

I helped train Achimpota in basic journalism skills during my 6-month contract with JHR at MJ FM. Then four months ago, when Farm Radio was looking for a journalist to create a new weather report (Hali ya hewa in Swahili) ICT for mobile phones and local radio stations, I nominated Achimpota for the job and she was hired on the spot.

The second journalist I suggested was Clara Moita, a journalist at Arusha’s Radio 5. Farm Radio worked with Moita on her agricultural radio program called Fahari Yangu. I’ve had the chance to meet and write about Moita’s program. She frequently visits farmers in the field to understand the challenges they face every day. I thought this training would help her build more journalism research skills. But I guess the management at Radio 5 didn’t think she was the proper fit for this workshop, as I was told by Sengiyumva.

Unfortunately, gender parity wasn’t achieved, as only three out of the 14 trainees were women journalists. This is a common problem in Tanzania. Most media owners and management staff tend to send male journalists more often to training sessions, favouring them over their female counterparts. Thankfully, Achimpota was allowed to attend the three day training. Management at MJ FM appreciate the time I’ve spent, post-JHR, keeping in touch with staff and continuing my relationship with the radio station.

Day one of the training required Achimpota to start her own blog Matukio ya wiki (News of the Week) which is a nice compliment to her daily radio program Matukio ya siku (News of the Day). I was glad to see her pounding away at the keyboard for three days straight, honing her research skills and creating new blog posts. This was something I tried to do while working with MJ FM, but due to the lack of internet access at the station it wasn’t possible.

Developing world media

I tried many times to arrange a day on the weekend, when I wasn’t working at the radio station, for us to meet at a local cafe with wi-fi to help her start a blog, but she could never find the time because she lives 30 km from Arusha, in USA river, and has three children to look after on weekends when they’re not in school. So, I settled for showing her how to post her radio documentary on the MJ FM Soundcloud page, which I assisted in creating.

Understandably, JHR stipulates trainers are not to bring technology into the placement that will not be left behind after the contract ends, as this would create a dependency for the journalists and the work would not continue once the trainer finished and left. At times I was frustrated, knowing I could easily bring my laptop and internet stick into the station and create a blog with her in a few minutes, but I realize she’d never be able to access it without me.

Achimpota speaks and writes primarily in Swahili, so this training helped her not only with investigative techniques and research skills. It also gave her confidence to write in English. She speaks English quite well, but does have problems expressing herself from time-to-time.

“I now know how to link to different websites and research important stories using the internet,” Achimpota said. “But there was  a problem with the internet connection on my computer and I wasn’t able to save my final research story on press freedom in Tanzania.”

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Journalists for Human Rights Face New Challenge in East Africa

A family living on the streets of Dar es Salaam. Courtesy of Teri Fikowski

A family living on the streets of Dar es Salaam. Courtesy of Teri Fikowski

Years of experience working with journalists in West Africa could not prepare Canada’s media development organization, Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), with what would happen next in East Africa. Written by a former JHR Tanzania media trainer.

ARUSHA, Tanzania - Canadian journalist Chris Oke never thought when he accepted a position at Journalists for Human Rights, or JHR, in Tanzania that he would be robbed, arrested by police, and witness a government crackdown on the media.

All this in his first two weeks as a JHR trainer at Mwananchi, which means The Citizen in English. It’s one of Tanzania’s most widely circulated newspapers. Within the first few days getting acquainted to Dar es Salaam, the chaotic coastal capital, Oke, 30, had his backpack, phone, laptop and external hard drive containing all his work stolen.

“I left my [hotel] room key with the receptionist. We’d been instructed to do this all week, and it had become habit. I was back in my room by 3 a.m. That was when I discovered my computer was gone. Other things were missing as well. I gathered my friends, and reported the theft to the front desk. There was no sign of forced entry. The door was closed and locked when I left and when I returned. The windows were also closed,” Oke wrote in Errant Magazine last November about the robbery.

Media development in Africa

JHR is a Canadian media development organization working for over 10 years in sub-Saharan Africa, building the media sector by working alongside African journalists, helping them to report on human rights abuse.

In 2013, for the first time in its 11 years of existence, JHR branched out from its long-time work in Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone into Tanzania. The East African country is much different from West Africa when it comes to the lack of press freedom and repressive media laws.

Mike MacDonald, 30, a journalist who worked with Postmedia News in Toronto, spent the first six months of JHR’s year-long engagement with Mwananchi, a daily which is published in Swahili, the common language of Tanzania’s nearly 48 million people.

“Unfortunately, you can’t work around this barrier a lot of the time. You just have to accept that there will be a lot going on that you don’t understand. Realistically, you can’t ask for a translation every 30 seconds because that would eviscerate productivity,” MacDonald said.

Oke and MacDonald were out on assignment during their week overlap last September, as MacDonald finished his contract term and Oke began his own. MacDonald’s last day, and Oke’s first, on the job became an unforgettable one as they attended a military funeral with Mwananchi journalists for a Tanzanian soldier killed in DR Congo.

“We showed a bunch of documents to enter the base but when we were leaving we were pulled aside for questioning,” MacDonald recounted. “We had to surrender our passports and were released for the night on bail after being detained for perhaps 10 hours or so, even though they weren’t any formal charges leveled against us. We were told by our lawyer that if we were found guilty of espionage, we could face 30 years in prison.”

After meeting with officials from the Canadian High Commission, lawyers, the military police, and the head of local police, MacDonald and Oke were let go. “It was all a big misunderstanding,” MacDonald added.

Human rights media

Not every journalist working with JHR faced this kind of adversity. For one, it was an occasion to produce some real human rights media, or Rights Media, as JHR calls its rights-based approach and work produced by journalists.

Teri Fikowski, 25, spent her time as a JHR trainer at Clouds FM, Tanzania’s biggest entertainment radio and television network. Her experience reporting at Global Television in Lethbridge, Alberta gave her instant credibility in the newsroom.

Working on an in-depth story with two reporters from Clouds about homeless children in Dar es Salaam, Fikowski heard something which really upset her.

“It wasn’t until one reporter was translating an interview with a young boy about the hardships of living on the street that I was taken aback. The boy recounted how he receives no food, no clothing, no shelter, and was being raped by police,” she said.

Fikowski was horrified by his nonchalance when referring to the rape he endured at the hands of those meant to serve and protect vulnerable members of society. “Maybe I was naïve,” she added.

When she returned to the station, Fikowski held a workshop for reporters, informing them of children’s rights. She also discussed ways to approach police to politely ask for a response to these serious allegations.

“When we aired the series of stories on radio and TV on the accusations officers were sexually exploiting street children, they promised to launch an investigation,” Fikowski said. “After the series aired, a number of other media outlets picked up on the story. It started a conversation. I consider it a success because of the experiences gained by the journalists, their willingness to cover such an issue in the future, as well as knowing some ways to tackle hostile subjects in the future.”

Tanzania’s repressive media law

As for Oke, after dealing with the possibility of being thrown into jail his first week, his second week didn’t fare much better as he witnessed Mwananchi newspaper shut down by the government for publishing “seditious” material under the archaic 1976 Newspaper Act.

“The ban was really felt by the correspondents, who get paid per article and thus weren’t making any money at all for two weeks,” Oke said. “It would’ve been a great opportunity to work on some feature stories and do some training. As it was, I was still trying to get to know people, many of whom stopped coming in to the office, and get an idea of the needs of the paper, which was extremely difficult given the ban.”

Rachel Pulfer, JHR’s executive director, said the organization is assessing and evaluating its pilot year in Tanzania. In 2013, the nation dropped 36 points on the World Press Freedom Index.

“It’s been a real challenge for our trainers. They showed real tenacity,” Pulfer said. “I’m impressed how they were able to navigate in spite of major obstacles.”

*Since 2002, JHR has worked in 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East. In 2013, it began working with aboriginal journalists in northern Ontario.

Published online @ Huffington Post Canada

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Tanzania: Young Farmers Fight Climate Change in Zanzibar

Ali Abeid calls his friend and fellow young farmer Adam from Shinyanga on Tanzania's mainland

Zanzibar young farmer, Ali Abeid, calls his friend and fellow young farmer in Shinyanga, on Tanzania’s mainland, for advice

In the small village of Kiombamvua, young Zanzibaris are turning to farming. Drought and sea water intrusion have taken their toll on the island’s farmland, and the young people are trying to combat the effects of climate change.

Ali Abeid is a 26-year-old vegetable farmer. Over the last three years, he has grown spinach and okra, and has diversified this season into tomatoes, eggplants and bananas. Mr. Abeid is a member of the Bahari Haikauki co-operative, an agricultural, fishing and carpentry co-op which is part of the Cooperative Union of Zanzibar, or CUZA. CUZA focuses on educating farmers on the benefits of organic agriculture.

Mr. Abeid says: “I’ve been sensitizing youth to agriculture. So far I’ve trained 35 youth in total on JFFLS [Junior Farmer Field and Life Schools] methodology: 20 women and 15 men!”

Mr. Abeid attended his own JFFLS training on the mainland, in Kibaha, Tanzania. The goal of the training is to empower vulnerable youth and provide them with livelihood options and skills needed for long-term food security.

Stambuli Mbaraka is the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s National Program Coordinator for Tanzania. He says, “We have trained more than 100 youth across Tanzania on JFFLS. In Zanzibar, 44 youths have graduated from the program.”

Each graduate is expected to mobilize 25 to 30 youth when they return to their home villages. Graduates promote agriculture in their local area and provide training and mentorship to others interested in becoming farmers.

Mr. Mbaraka said: “The number of young people taking up agriculture isn’t high … we’re trying to encourage and educate the young to turn to farming. It’s a money-making activity.”

Ali Abeid's mother helps out picking tomatoes on Ali's shamba.

Ali Abeid’s mother helps out picking tomatoes on his shamba

United Nations statistics show that almost 87 per cent of the 1.2 billion young people around the world live in developing countries. Over half live in rural areas. In sub-Saharan Africa, almost half of rural youth work in agriculture.

Suleiman Mbarouk is CUZA’s youth coordinator. He says: “Young farmers are more willing to accept new ideas. Old farmers tend to be more conservative. For example, young farmers know the value of compost, while older farmers don’t.”

Mr. Abeid believes that agriculture is a sustainable career path which can alleviate unemployment, poverty and climate change in Zanzibar. He says: “I’ve never received much help from agricultural extension officers. Once I was given some pesticide but it didn’t work, so I’ve been using physical labour to uproot the damaged crops.”

One of Mr. Abeid’s first trainees was 26-year-old Zaituni Maabadi Kombo. She grows mainly cucumbers on her shamba [small farm].

Ms. Kombo says: “Initially, village leaders didn’t recognize my efforts to mobilize youth … but I’m sure they will be convinced once they see how young people are generating income and are contributing to the community’s well-being through their horticulture activities.”

Published online @ Farm Radio Weekly

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#WorldRadioDay: a time for change

WRD-home-ENRadio is a tool for development and social change around the world. It’s widely accessible, relatively cheap and very simple to use. According to the United Nations, or UN, radio reaches 95 per cent of the world’s population. In sub-Saharan Africa, radio is the most important medium for communication, as millions of Africans tune-in to broadcasts every day for news, entertainment and music.

World Radio Day was adopted by the UN General Assembly on Dec. 18, 2012. The UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, states: “The objectives of the day will be to raise greater awareness among the public and the media of the importance of radio; to encourage decision makers to establish and provide access to information through radio; as well as to enhance networking and international cooperation among broadcasters.”

This year’s World Radio Day focuses on gender equality and will celebrate women in radio. During my career in community, public and even private radio, I’ve come to know and admire many women broadcasters. While working in media development across Africa, I’ve met with some exceptional ladies who’re transforming the media sector and leading the charge for gender equality in radio newsrooms.

gender-equality-in-radio_52efc84dac8f3_w1500

I’ve also had the benefit to meet and work with three great non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, that are working in sub-Saharan Africa to empower women broadcasters, of all ages, to make positive change through radio. Journalists for Human Rights, or JHR, Children’s Radio Foundation, or CRF, and Farm Radio International, or FRI. All three NGOs are transforming the sector by putting emphasis on the fact that only 37 per cent of radio stories are reported by women.

But this is all changing. CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour said: “I see more and more women in the field as journalists…And what I see is that it’s making a big change in the way stories are covered.” This is true, however there’s still a challenge of getting stories on the radio which highlight gender inequality, as only 24 per cent of people questioned, seen or heard in the media are women.

It’s a monumental task to change the way the media operates when only one in five experts interviewed on radio, television and in newspapers are women. It’s time to correct this gender imbalance and give women reporters and hosts more airtime. An important way to accomplish this is to have more women in senior positions at media houses. Since radio is the medium which reaches the most people worldwide, it’s time to give everyone an equal voice!

*statistics taken from UNESCO Gender Equality in Radio infographic.

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