In a major boost to Eastern and Southern African local media, UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) has supported the region’s community radios through the project “Strengthening Southern African new community radios to cover the coronavirus crisis”.
In partnership with the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS), the training project was implemented over the year 2020 in Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
More than 233 community radio practitioners benefited from the various training sessions offered through the project, which covered among others, online and physical safety as well as security in reporting on COVID-19, plus using digital platforms in pandemic reporting. Additionally, thanks to digital communications provisions, many more community radio practitioners will continue to benefit from the trainings through the Eastern and Southern Africa Community Radio Collaboration Platform, which was established through this project. Over 200 community radio practitioners from each country in Eastern and Southern Africa have registered and are communicating using the platform.
In addition to a wide geographical reach, the project offered opportunities for experience sharing and strengthening cooperation at sub-regional and continental levels. Ms Doreen Mwasi, of Koch FM Kenya, spoke enthusiastically of her experience as a panellist at one of the regional community radio webinars organised through the project.
Ms Mwasi’s comments reflect the regional and international collaboration brought about through the project, which sourced panellists and trainers from countries in the Eastern and Southern African region, in addition to Australia, Bangladesh and Denmark, also including specialized entities such as the World Association of Community Broadcasters (AMARC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The trainings took place while the Government of Zimbabwe engaged the process of issuing new community radio licences for the first time. Nevertheless, potential community radios in Zimbabwe participated and benefitted from the project in large numbers, enhancing the recognition of community radios’ important role in disseminating preventive health information to address COVID-19. This exemplifies the project’s impact at country-level, in support to sustainable development.
Community Radio Harare (CORAH) experienced a major increase in access to its online content following their participation in the project’s webinars. Some of CORAH’s content produced through IPDC support reached more than 3300 views.