Community Radio for Change REMIX
While many ARC users have talked about the Internet, mobile tech, videos, low tech tools like Questionbox, and even the use of pictures-- we have yet to discuss the possibilities that can exist in Rur
As many rural Africans do not have access to radio signals, they cannot listen to information that is shared through the radio. A large percentage of Africans rely on subsistence farming and could benefit from radio programs that disseminate information about how to improve agricultural practices. Using technology and services made available by two organizations: Radio Active and Smallholders Farmer Rural Radio, I propose to establish a radio station that dedicates a certain percentage of airtime to sharing information about agricultural practices in one rural community in Africa. It is expected that farmers will gain skills from experts and one another and learn information that will help them determine when to plant their crops, better understand weather patterns, learn how to manage pests, and make more informed decisions that will result in higher yields.
Many parts of Africa lack access to radio signals and therefore cannot benefit from communicating with others via radio. As a result, they cannot access information about local, national and international news as well as information about health, music, employment opportunities, community events, and other announcements that are often shared through the radio. In addition, farmers lack information about new innovative technology, weather patterns that would help them determine when to plant, how to address different pests, and other basic data that would help them make more informed decisions about their farms. The development of many farms and the food security of much of Africa has been hindered because farmers lack this information.
There are two organizations that have helped rural communities obtain a radio signal and receive information crucial for farmers. In one community in northwest Cameroon where there was previously no radio signal until 2006, London-based Radio-Active established a community radio project entitled the Donga-Mantung Community Radio (DMCR). The village quickly accepted the radio as their new source of information and because they were inexpensive, many villagers purchased radios to stay informed. Refer to this article, http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/jan/19/cameroon-community-radio, for more information about this project. Another organization, Small-holder Farmers Rural Radio, helps communities set up infrastructure for broadcasting radio programs, designs and presents programs, maintains equipment and manages the radio station. Using information from sources such as the local Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Foreign Embassies and Ministry of Agriculture, Natural resources, Commerce and Industry, Small-holder Farmers Rural Radio can help local radio stations gather, compile and present reliable agricultural development and market information on a daily, weekly and/or monthly basis. They can recruit and train five small farmers as radio presenters, eight small farmers as the radio management committee volunteers drawn from a local host community and two technicians to run routine checks on equipment.
Combining the services of these two organizations would enable many Africa communities to access not just a radio, which will enhance their quality of life in many ways, but also up-to-date agricultural information which will dramatically improve their livelihood.
This project will require cooperation among the local government, religious leaders and general community. Depending on the location selected for this project, key community leaders should be consulted to assess their interest. Collaboration with community leaders will lead to the most culturally appropriate way to develop this project plan. Ideally these key community leaders would be involved in establishing how this project will operate, and how radio presenters, radio management committee volunteers, and radio technicians will be selected. I recommend that communities should explore hiring female farmers to take on thes various roles mentioned above. Radio drama is another component that each community should consider as this has been shown to be an effective method of communicating information in many African countries. Preference could be given to women to develop these storylines or there could be certain days of the week that have shows geared primarily for female farmers.
How will this initiative be sustained? What do others think? How much money will this project initially require? It might be helpful to reach out to Radio Active and the Small Holder Farmers Rural Radio to inquire how they received funding for other projects.
Real World Impact
Approximately 600,000 people were affected by this new radio signal that was implemented in northwestern Cameroon. This project has the potential to reach hundreds of thousands of people if it is replicated in other parts of Africa.
What do others think about the skills that will be developed? The type of information and skills that farmers should learn from radio programs needs to be considered. What do others think about conducting a needs assessment of the farmers so that the radio program addresses the needs of these farmers?
Got a suggestion on how to make this idea even better?REMIX IT!