Community radio portal brings rural voices to Tanzania and soon Uganda

9 Jun, 2022

Vikes’ support for community media in East Africa continued to be strong in Tanzania and expanded to Uganda and Kenya in 2021. The number of trained journalists exceeded expectations.

Journalist Grace Hamisi in the Jamii FM studio. In the background on TV, the country’s new President Samia Suluhu Hassan. Photo: Peik Johansson Vikes has been supporting community radio in Tanzania for several years and has built an online community radio portal in the country. In 2021, journalists, producers and IT staff at 25 radio stations were trained, and now all 33 member radio stations of the Community Radio Association Tadio have been trained and are publishing content on a common radio portal.

A total of 230 people attended the training sessions, of whom just over a third were women. The initial aim was to train 40 people from 20 radio stations. So this was well exceeded. The aim was to have at least ten stations broadcasting online by the end of 2021. This target was also exceeded, and now all 33 Tadio member stations broadcast their programmes online.

Launched in 2020, the portal aims to help local radio stations reach a wider audience outside their own analogue coverage area. Wider coverage via the web will improve the flow of information from rural areas to a wider national audience. The portal will increase the freedom of expression of rural people and bring rural voices to the attention of urban citizens and decision-makers.

The aim now is that by 2025, the portal will be fully managed by Tadio and will help radio stations in their fundraising efforts.

A more independent Jamii FM station

Vikes has also directly supported the Jamii FM radio station in Southern Tanzania. With the support of the project, Jamii FM regularly produces programmes on topics such as women’s issues, the rights of disabled people, natural gas production and environmental issues.

According to the listener survey, Jamii FM’s radio programmes are very popular in rural villages and have led to tangible positive changes, such as improved access to health services and clean water, school renovations and support for the poorest people in the villages.

Around one million people live in the radio coverage area.

Vikes has supported Jamii FM’s marketing and fundraising efforts to put the radio on a more sustainable financial footing. The equipment has also been upgraded, and in 2021, solar panels were installed on the radio so that power cuts will no longer interfere with broadcasts.

The financial sustainability of radio has improved, although further efforts are still needed in fundraising. The aim is that by 2025, Jamii FM will be financially strong and standing on its own two feet.

Project extended to Uganda and Kenya

The radio portal is a Finnish innovation that is set to spread to other countries. In 2021, the portal project was launched in Uganda, with a follow-up project supported by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The extension of the project to Uganda and Kenya had been delayed due to tight covid restrictions in these countries.

Comnetu, the Uganda Community Radio Association, and Vikes have now started developing both the new Comnetu website and the Uganda Community Radio Portal. In 2021, local community radio stations were trained in online publishing and other uses of the web in their editorial work.

The training sessions were attended by 45 journalists and producers from 18 radio stations across Uganda. 44% of the participants were women.

In Kenya, under the Community Media Project, training for rural journalists is planned, and these trainings also got underway in late 2021, when 12 journalists from the Lake Victoria region attended the first rural reporting course in Kisumu. The second training took place in April 2022 in Eldoret.

In Kenya, the local partner is Development Through Media (DTM), a media production company focusing on development journalism. The trainees have already published their own programmes on DTM’s Radio Baraza channel. A weekly news show on rural issues is in the works.

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