Zimbabwe’s cyclone hit communities laud establishment of community radio stations
Cyclone IDAI hit the Eastern part of the Zimbabwe in March 2019, at a time when there were several challenges associated with community emergency preparedness and communication. These challenges were highlighted by Chimanimani community members during a community mobilization visit conducted by the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSA), the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) and Transmedia in May 2021. The community voices are validated through the report titled Response to cyclone Idai by media in Zimbabwe: an assessment, which also highlights various challenges associated with the media during the Cyclone.
The joint mission to conduct community mobilisation sessions in Chimanimani, Nyanga and Garawa communities was in preparations for the establishment of three community radios in Zimbabwe mainly focusing on the cyclone affected areas. The establishment of the three community radios is undertaken under the World Bank and UNOPS supported Zimbabwe Idai Recovery Project (ZIRP). The three community radio stations will form part of the Zimbabwe Idai Recovery Programme’s Community early warning system which aims at strengthening community resilience to disasters and emergencies in the region.
In an interview during the site survey, UNESCO ROSA Regional Advisor for Communication and Information Mr. Al-Amin Yusuph said, “We hope the community radios will be able to provide early warning systems and emergency responses in case of any future disasters”.
He said the early response systems would be achieved through the linkages between the community radio stations, community communications mechanisms and regional and national mechanisms. The early warning system will bring in new partners such as the meteorological department, Red Cross and other disaster response agencies or organisations to work with the communities through the community radios.
The Garawa, Chimanimani and Nyanga residents welcomed the community radios initiative with excitement. Mr. Maxwell Jenya from Garawa community said they usually face challenges during rainy seasons because of the heavy black soils in the area, which affect their roads; hence, the community radio station will notify people in time to ensure early warning and safety.
Chimanimani residents also expressed their excitement of owning a radio station as they were previously relying on news coverage only from the national broadcaster – the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) or radio stations from Mozambique because of the difficult terrain, which affects the radio signals.
Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), Acting CEO Mr. Matthias Chakanyuka assured BAZ’s support to strengthen the capacity of the radio stations.
With the generous support of the Zimbabwe IDAI recovery Project funded by the World Bank and UNOPS, and in collaboration with the Government of Zimbabwe, UNESCO brings best practices in establishing three model community radio stations to address Disaster Risk Reduction in Manicaland Province.
Community radios are vital in reaching out to people with little or no access to information. They are efficient platforms for educating and informing citizens living in hard to reach areas about critical issues, which affect their lives and sustainable development in general.