Logo: Farm Radio Weekly

1404 Scott Street,
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1Y 4M8

Tel: 613-761-3650
Fax: 613-798-0990
Toll-Free: 1-888-773-7717
Email: info@farmradio.org
Web Site: http://farmradio.org/

Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Farm Radio Weekly

We’re in this together: End violence against women

Thank you for taking the time to open Farm Radio Weekly. We hope that the stories and other resources in issue #313 give you pause for thought. We hope that they will encourage you to raise the subject of violence against women and the right of women to be free from all forms of harassment and fear.

November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and Farm Radio Weekly is dedicating this issue to the subject of gender-based violence. We bring you the story of an abused Ugandan widow, raise the issue of women’s right to self-expression, and profile a transsexual from Lesotho who is leading efforts to raise awareness and increase acceptance of those who self-identify differently.

A Ugandan man beat his wife regularly. By the time of his death, the beatings had left her permanently scarred, both mentally and physically. But a neighbour’s kindness has allowed her to farm and provide for her three children. She is nor forging a new life for herself.

Many African men feel they have the right to tell women how they can dress. When men don’t like what they see, they often “slut-shame” women they believe are not dressing modestly. In Nairobi recently, some men went too far. And now the women of the city are fighting back.

It is not just women who are exposed to violence and intolerance. People who choose their sexual partners or their gender identity differently are also targeted. But In Lesotho, a young, articulate transsexual is starting to make a difference!

As usual, FRW brings you resources and events: in this issue they are related to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.

Keep broadcasting!

-The Farm Radio Weekly team

Post your comment »

Uganda: Widow recovers from violent marriage (by Geoffrey Ojok, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Tears of anguish roll down Sidonia Akello’s cheeks as she remembers the agonies she suffered during her marriage. But her life is different now that her husband is dead.

In hushed tones, Mrs. Akello sings a Luo funeral song to her one-year-old daughter, who she has rapped securely in a shawl on her back.

The 32-year-old mother of three endured a life of sorrow in her home village, Te-Oburu, about 400 kilometres north of Uganda’s capital city, Kampala.

In June 2013, villagers were stunned by the sight of Mrs. Akello standing before the village court bleeding from a gash on the side of her head. Her husband, Denis Oyar, had demanded she have sex with him. When she refused, he flew into a rage and cut off her ear. She had given birth only two weeks earlier and was still recovering from labour.

Mr. Oyar was often drunk and regularly beat his wife senseless. On the night in question, after beating her, he picked up his machete and cut off her right ear. The two older children ran out into the dark, screaming for someone to come to their mother’s aid.

David Okao is the village chief. He says, “Oyar committed an offence. We punished him and made him provide medical care to his wife.”

Mr. Oyar died six months later. But Mrs. Akello’s misery didn’t end. Her brother-in-law accused her of denying him his inheritance. She was sentenced to 60 lashes, and forced to sell a goat in order to pay a fine of $18 U.S.

But when all seemed lost, fortune smiled on Mrs. Akello. Her neighbour Ismael Omara had noticed the widow’s plight. The 79-year-old stood up in front of the village chief and publicly gave Mrs. Akello half a hectare of land as a permanent gift.

With this small gesture, Mrs. Akello’s life changed for the better. She now grows cassava on the plot of land she received from her neighbour. The widow feeds her children with her harvest, and sells whatever is left over. She explains, “I grow cassava because [of the] high demand in this region. Besides, I don’t need to buy insecticide and weeding expenses are minimal.”

She earned $230 U.S. by selling her last cassava harvest at the market. Mrs. Akello says, “I used the money I got to pay fees for my two [older] children [to go to] primary school. I bought food with the surplus money, and now we are happy.”

Post your comment »

Kenya: Nairobi residents take to the streets after woman is stripped and beaten in public (The Guardian)

Hundreds of women took to the streets of Nairobi to defend their right to wear what they choose after a woman was stripped and beaten for wearing a miniskirt.

The woman was attacked at a busy bus stop in Nairobi’s Central Business District. Dozens of men surrounded the woman, tore off her clothes and forced her to the ground. According to local media, the men said the woman was “indecently dressed,” and accused her of “tempting” them.

A bystander filmed the attack, and video footage of the incident later emerged online. It shows the men calling the woman “Jezebel” as she cries for help. Kenyans have condemned the attack on social media, using the hashtag #MyDressMyChoice.

The Facebook group Kilimani Mums organized a “miniskirt protest” in central Nairobi to defend a woman’s right to wear what she chooses.

On the event page, Kilimani Mums wrote: “This morning we as Kilimani Mums met and decided that we shall hold a peaceful procession to Accra Road. This is our chance to stand together as women and deliver a message to our country that sexual violence will not be tolerated.”

Reports say that over 200 people attended the march. But as the protesters walked from Uhuru Park toward the site of the attack, they were confronted by men declaring that they would “continue to strip women who are dressed skimpily.”

Police Chief David Kimaiyo appealed to the victim of the attack to lodge an official complaint so that the police can investigate.

Campaigners say that in Kenya’s conservative society, women’s rights are often abused. Winnie Kabintie is a correspondent for KenyaForum.net. She writes: “It doesn’t matter whether or not the woman was indecently dressed; after all, what’s the benchmark for what is considered decent? Furthermore, how did stripping her bare aid in enhancing her decency?”

The issue of what a woman chooses to wear is not only a Kenyan problem. Ugandan police issued a public warning against “indecently dressed” women in February 2014. The country’s State Minister for Ethics and Integrity proposed a ban on miniskirts. Women mobilized on social media, using the hashtag #SaveTheMiniSkirt. A year earlier, Namibian authorities also attempted to ban miniskirts. Police arrested forty women, claiming that revealing clothes “are not African.”

Dan Moshenberg is Director of Women’s Studies at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He writes: “Women [understand] that the issue of their clothing [is] nothing more or less than an attack on women’s autonomy.”

To read the full article on which this story is based, Kenyans protest after woman is beaten and stripped in public, go to: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/17/kenya-mydressmychoice-protest-woman-stripped?CMP=twt_gu

Post your comment »

Lesotho: Making trans rights matter

Tampose Mothopeng is a human rights defender from Lesotho. He is also young, idealistic, and transsexual. Mr. Mothopeng says, “There’s a lot of stigma in the general population.” He says the transgender community in Lesotho is tackling violence and bullying in schools, a lack of access to health services, and a high rate of unemployment.

Trans people define themselves as those who have a different self-identity than their physical gender. They face employment barriers because of their gender identity and expression. They often drop out of school because of family- or school-based violence.

According to Mr. Mothopeng, without education or employment, many are forced into sex work just to get by.

But despite these and other challenges, there is a vibrant trans movement in Lesotho working at both the grassroots and national levels. Mr. Mothopeng is the director of the Matrix Support Group, an organization which raises awareness and combats discrimination.

Matrix engages with traditional leaders, teachers, and government officials. Its members speak on radio and television talk shows. The group runs campaigns on bodily autonomy, and hosts community dialogues.

When the Government of Lesotho develops national strategic plans, Matrix pushes the government to include the perspectives of minority groups: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual/Transgender and Intersexual people, or LGBTI; men who have sex with men, and other key populations.

Mr. Mothopeng says: “We’re sensitizing and educating teachers about gender identity and human rights, and working with the Ministry of Education to develop a new module for high school students.”

Mr. Mothopeng points out that medical care can be particularly problematic for the trans community. He explains, “We cannot access health services. They don’t seem prepared to help us.” In response, Matrix released its own study on trans health this year. Mr. Mothopeng says the study was important because most research focuses on men who have sex with men only.

In May 2014, Matrix organized a march through Lesotho’s capital of Maseru to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. The group uses days like this and the International Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20 to publicize issues that trans people face, and hold community-building activities such as movie screenings and group discussions.

He credits his recent Mandela Washington Fellowship experience in the U.S. with sharpening his leadership and problem-solving skills. Mr. Mothopeng says, “I now know when to say ‘no’ and when to say ‘yes.’ I don’t just rush into things. I look into things and prioritize before getting started.”

Mr. Mothopeng says he is proud of the partnerships Matrix has made. He also stresses the diversity within the organization’s management and leadership programs.

He says: “In Africa in general, most organizations have been struggling to sustain partnerships with other human rights groups or with the government itself. We don’t lose our partners. We’re a youth-led organization run by LGBTI activists.”

To read the full article on which this story was based, A movement that matters: Trans rights in Lesotho, go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/randal-mason/a-movement-that-matters-t_b_6177810.html

Post your comment »

FRW news in brief

1-Ghana: MP justifies ‘stoning to death’ for women who commit adultery

A Ghanaian Member of Parliament, Nelson Abudu Baani, is calling for women who commit adultery to be stoned or hanged to death.

His comments have attracted severe condemnation from women rights activists and the general public, who have called for his resignation. But Mr. Abudu Baani said stoning or hanging unfaithful women to death would serve as a deterrent to other women.

He says: “That is my view. I just want [Parliament] to institute punishments for women who would be adulterous … if other people have any other punishments, they should bring it.”

Mr. Abudu Baani dismissed critics who described his suggestion as backward, saying the threat of punishment would only help women to remain faithful to their husbands.

To read the full article, go to: http://m.starrfmonline.com/1.1897376 More reaction to the story is available here: http://thisisafrica.me/stone-adulterous-women-death-says-ghanaian-mp/

2-Tanzania: Forty thousand Maasai to be evicted from Serengeti to make room for Dubai royal family

Forty thousand Maasai will be evicted from their homeland by the end of the year after the Tanzanian government reportedly backtracked on a promise to leave the pastoralists alone.

Last year, the Tanzanian government appeared to have resisted a land purchase by the Dubai royal family, proposing instead a “wildlife corridor” dedicated to hunting near Serengeti National Park. But the deal to sell the land for a private hunting reserve is reported to have gone through, and the Tanzanian government says the Maasai will have to leave.

Samwel Nangiria is the coordinator for a local civil society group called Ngonett. He says: “I feel betrayed. [Compensation of] one billion [Tanzanian shillings – $578,500 U.S.] is very little and you cannot compare that with land. It’s inherited. [Our] mothers and grandmothers are buried in that land.”

To read the full article, go to: http://www.salon.com/2014/11/17/tanzania_will_sell_masai_homeland_to_dubai_royal_family/ For further background information, see: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/04/15/news-brief-tanzanian-maasai-to-lose-land-to-%e2%80%98green-land-grab%e2%80%99-agencies/

3-Ethiopia: Abortion law reduce maternal deaths

Ethiopia decriminalized abortion in 2005 in an effort to lower high maternal death rates. At least a third of these deaths were due to botched abortions.

Dawit Argaw owns the Blue Star Clinic in Addis Ababa. He believes that safe abortions save women’s lives. He adds, “In my religion, it is forbidden. But for me as a human being, I accept it [as necessary], so that is why I do it.”

Increased access to contraceptives also improves women’s health, and the number of unwanted pregnancies is declining as more women choose to use birth control.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100463/ethiopia-s-game-changing-abortion-law

Post your comment »

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says: “I welcome the chorus of voices calling for an end to the violence that affects an estimated one in three women in her lifetime. I applaud leaders who are helping to enact and enforce laws and change mindsets. And I pay tribute to all those heroes around the world who help victims to heal and to become agents of change.”

November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The Day is the starting point for the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, which leads up to Human Rights Day, celebrated on December 10.

Why is there a need for these international days of observance and for a campaign to end gender-based violence? Primarily because violence against women is so prevalent, and because it’s a violation of human rights. Gender-based violence is a consequence of discrimination against women, in law and in practice, and of persisting inequalities between men and women.

Violence against women also impedes progress in many areas, including the eradication of poverty and the fight against HIV and AIDS. In some countries, up to 70 per cent of women will experience gender-based violence in their lifetime.

But violence against women and girls is not inevitable. You can organize and broadcast programs on your station to raise awareness. For more information about the Day, and online resources, go to: http://www.un.org/en/events/endviolenceday/

For more information about the 16 Days of Action, go to: http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/end-violence-against-women

Post your comment »

Take back the tech!

Take Back The Tech! is a collaborative campaign that will take place during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence, which runs from November 25 – December 10.

The 2014 campaign is titled Violence silences: Document. Challenge. Reclaim women’s right to expression. It is a call to everyone ― especially women and girls ― to take control of technology to end violence against women.

The Internet is an increasingly important public space, and online violence is a real threat, narrowing women’s capacity to participate in and define the space. Violence against women restricts freedom of expression. Online violence, often referred to as cvberbullying, makes it difficult for women to participate in the public sphere and contribute to culture and decision-making, and makes women afraid to critique policies and systems.

Exercising the right to freedom of expression is critical to ending violence and promoting other rights. This change can be brought about by speaking up, making violence visible, exchanging information, and building solidarity through communication.
As part of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, Take Back the Tech! invites people to help focus the conversation about violence against women on violating a woman’s fundamental human right to freedom of expression.

Find out more at the Take back the tech! website: https://www.takebackthetech.net/page/about-campaign

Post your comment »

Tackling Ebola at ground zero: African singers and artists unite to record Africa Stop Ebola

A collective of African artists has united to record a song to raise awareness about Ebola. This song will raise funds to support the work of Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in West Africa.

Africa Stop Ebola is now available for download through all major online music retailers. The song features West African artists Tiken Jah Fakoly, Amadou & Mariam, Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare, Kandia Kora, Mory Kante, Sia Tolno, and Barbara Kanam, rappers Didier Awadi, Marcus and Mokobé, and musicians Sekou Kouyaté (electric guitar, bass, and electric kora) and Ludovic N’Holle (drums).

The song gives citizens information on what they can do about Ebola, and provides hope that this epidemic can be stopped. It is performed in French and in other languages widely spoken across the region. This ensures that the message will be understood regardless of the listener’s level of literacy or education.

A video clip of the song is being promoted on TV and local websites throughout West Africa, with the support of a team of local music promoters and community organizations. Africa Stop Ebola has also been distributed to radio stations across the region, with support from AMARC, the World Association of Community Radio Stations.
MSF is providing independent medical aid and emergency relief to Ebola-affected countries in West Africa, and has deployed more than 3,300 dedicated health workers in the field.

A video clip of the song is available at:

Editor’s note: If you are a West African radio broadcaster and would like to play the song on your airwaves, listen to the audio file here: https://soundcloud.com/africastopebola/africa-stop-ebola

For more information, please email africastopebola@gmail.com.

Post your comment »

Farm Radio Weekly spotlights African farm broadcasters

Farm Radio International knows that farmer radio programs help farmers voice their concerns and share their lives through the airwaves. We want to celebrate the hard work of the farm radio broadcasters who serve these farmers.

Starting in December 2014, we will be profiling an African farm broadcaster in many of our weekly FRW editions. We will be collecting stories about farm radio broadcasters from all over Africa.

We want to build a better understanding and an appreciation for what African farm broadcasters do, and spotlight how their work improves the lives of small-scale farmers and farming communities.

Do you or your station want to be featured in Farm Radio Weekly? Do you want to nominate another broadcaster you think FRW readers should hear about?

Get in touch with us by emailing nbassily@farmradio.org and proberts@farmradiotz.org.

In your email, tell us:

why you think your work and the work of your radio station should be highlighted;

how your farm radio programs are put together; and,

how you interact with your farming audience.

Whether you are nominating yourself or another broadcaster, please email us with responses to the questions above, along with your contact information (name and phone number) or the contact details of the broadcaster you are nominating.

We will follow up with you or the person you are nominating –and get your stories published!

Post your comment »

How to establish and manage successful radio listening groups

Our script of the week is from our latest Resource Pack, #99.

It is a broadcaster-how-to document which presents a tried and true method of establishing and managing radio listening groups, based on many years of experience in Zambia. The document is designed as a guide to forming and maintaining radio listening groups rather than a strict “blueprint” to follow, regardless of the situation. The basic principles of establishing and managing radio listening groups are well-established and do not vary greatly.

The document touches on the disadvantages of traditional radio listening, the advantages of listening to the radio in listener groups, ways of organizing listening groups, training listening groups, supporting listening groups, and monitoring and evaluating the success of radio listening groups.


Post your comment »

Call for stories: Red Elephant Foundation wants to hear from human rights defenders

The Red Elephant Foundation is an initiative built on the foundations of storytelling, civilian peace-building and activism for gender sensitivity.

The initiative records and highlights stories that must never be forgotten, stories that show courage and hold profound lessons that the world should always remember. Red Elephant Foundation aims to create awareness and open channels of communication in order to create tolerant, peaceful and equitable societies.

The Foundation is calling for real stories from all over the world ― stories of survival and rising above adversity in conflict; of surviving gender-based violence; of peace-making and change-making; of surviving domestic violence, and; stories of those who defend human rights.

You do not have to be a writer to submit a story. If you have a story to share, contact the Foundation at info@redelephantfoundation.org. They will arrange a time for an interview. Let them help you use your voice to broadcast the truth.

This call for stories has no deadline.

Post your comment »

Breaking down walls: changing the future

Hello! Welcome to Farm Radio Weekly issue #312! In this edition, we present stories from Rwanda, Malawi and Somaliland.

Reconciliation after a bitter or divisive conflict can be difficult and painful. But a group of Rwandan women have sweetened the process by setting up the country’s only home-grown ice cream company. Their popularity with locals and foreigners alike means they are set to expand their business.

After her divorce, Annie Basikolo found it difficult to provide food and education for her children. She started growing okra to feed the family, but discovered that the citizens of Lilongwe enjoy eating the vegetable as part of their daily meals. Now the kids are at school and well fed!

Somaliland is facing a crisis: the cost of charcoal has risen fivefold in the past seven years. The government is trying to implement measures to alleviate the situation, but Somalilanders are used to charcoal and find it difficult to change the habit of a lifetime.

Our Resource section is dedicated to A poem for the living. This monologue, available in several languages, is a plea from a boy infected with Ebola to his loved ones. He asks them to follow the practices which will keep them safe, even if they prevent them from physically comforting him in his distress.

Ghanaian broadcaster Victoria Dansoa Abankwa is one of the three joint winners of Farm Radio International’s George Atkins Communication Award for 2014. Farm Radio Weekly is delighted to present a profile of this dynamic lady; we hope that her story serves as an inspiration to others.

Our next issue will be dedicated to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Be sure to check your inbox!

Keep listening to farmers, as they listen to you!

-the Farm Radio Weekly team

Post your comment »

Rwanda: Women survivors drum up ice cream business (by Fulgence Niyonagize, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Chantal Kabatesi survived the Rwandan genocide. But for many years after 1994, she lived isolated in her community in Huye, in the Butare province of southern Rwanda. Now she has re-connected by joining a group of women survivors.

Mrs. Kabatesi explains, “Before, I was a farmer, and then I joined a group of women drummers. Subsequently, the group set up a project to produce and sell ice cream. ”

She joined the association in 2004. The women played drums, sang and danced to help ease their painful memories of the genocide.

Odile Gakire Katese, known as “Kiki,” founded the group. The former university professor brought together victims of the genocide with former torturers. The women opened up to each other, reconciled and united. The group was the first to break the gender taboo against women playing drums, instruments usually reserved for men.

Playing drums broke the woman out of their social isolation. The group increased from 25 members to 100. The association began to consider new activities which could include all members. By chance, Kiki met the founders of Blue Marbles Ice Cream, a small ice cream company based in Brooklyn, U.S.A. Kiki realized that the group could develop an ice cream business in Rwanda.

At the end of 2010, the women launched their fledgling business, calling it Inzozi nziza, or Sweet dreams. Mrs. Kabatesi works in the shop as a waitress. She serves customers soft ice cream flavoured with passion fruit, strawberries and pineapple. If they want, she adds toppings like fresh fruit, honey and homemade granola.

Inzozi nziza is the only company in Rwanda currently producing ice cream from locally-produced dairy products, honey, eggs and fruit. Group members grow and supply the fruit used in the desserts. In addition to ice cream, the women make sandwiches and cook omelettes for their customers.

The customers are not only Rwandans; many foreign tourists have discovered Inzozi nziza. At first, the women could only speak their local language. But some have learned English to better communicate with their foreign customers.

At first, Inzozi nziza was supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, but the company is now self-sufficient.

Kiki says that, despite the ice cream business, drumming continues to be the focus of their leisure time, and continues to provide social connection and development. But, she adds, “The volume of sales to customers encourages us to increase our output. I intend to open shops in other towns.”

Mrs. Kabatesi talks proudly about the many changes in her life. She says, “With the money I earn here, I support my husband by paying our child’s school fees. And my family and I live well in our renovated house.”

Mrs. Kabatesi has used her wages to enrol in a family health insurance scheme. She says, “It’s all good. I don’t know what would have happened to me had I not joined Inzozi nziza.

Post your comment »

Malawi: Farmer earns enough from okra to send her children to school (by Norman Fulatira, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Life became difficult for Annie Basikolo in 2004 when her marriage ended in divorce. It was a challenge to provide enough food for her children and pay their school fees. She had little money and less time.

But things began to change in 2005 when she started growing okra in her garden in the village of Njovu, near Malawi’s capital city of Lilongwe. She grew okra to feed her family. But many Malawians love eating okra as a relish or sauce to accompany nsima, a stiff maize porridge eaten as a staple. When city residents began asking for the crop, Mrs. Basikolo realized that she had a market.

Since then, Mrs. Basikolo has expanded her okra field to nearly a quarter-hectare, a little less than half a football pitch. She plants at the beginning of the first rains, making the most of the erratic water supply in her area.

Because her field is close to a river, she can also irrigate the crop. Irrigation allows her to harvest okra pods for nearly six months. Mrs. Basikolo improves the health and fertility of her soil by applying as much composted manure as she can get her hands on.

Okra has worked well for Mrs. Basikolo. She says it does not take long before okra returns benefits to a grower. She explains: “I harvest tender okra pods using a sharp knife almost daily from two months after planting. I harvest about eight kilograms of okra every day, and this gives me the much-needed income for my home.” She sells her produce to eager buyers at the nearby Area 23 Township Market in Lilongwe.

Joseph Mtengezo is an agricultural extension worker in Lilongwe. He says okra is generally grown as a subsistence crop in Malawi, with less than 100 hectares planted around Lilongwe. But there is great demand from city dwellers, and Mr. Mtengezo believes the crop could transform the lives of small-scale farmers.

He says many farmers have poor harvests because they intercrop okra with maize. He explains, “I encourage farmers to turn to monocropping as opposed to intercropping, in order to realize higher yields.”

John Molosoni is a farmer from Ching’amba village, 60 kilometres east of Lilongwe, who follows Mr. Mtengezo’s advice. He says, “I have seen a major improvement in okra yield after transforming to monocropping from intercropping this year.”

Mr. Molosoni plans to grow more okra in the coming rainy season. He is optimistic that higher yields will mean a better income for his family.

Mrs. Basikolo has only one problem with okra: the pods have tiny spines that irritate her hands when harvesting.

But okra has changed her life. With daily sales of $10 U.S., she can easily pay her children’s school fees of $45 U.S. per term. Her children attend the local government secondary school during the day, and Mrs. Basikolo has food waiting for them on the table when they return home.

Post your comment »

Somaliland: Soaring charcoal prices hit families hard (IRIN)

Families in Somaliland have been hard hit by the steep rise in the price of charcoal, the main cooking fuel in the region.

Asha Ahmed is a mother of five. She says, “We used to buy two full sacks of charcoal per month, but due to the high price we buy one jaqaf daily.” A jaqaf, or tin, contains just two-and-a-half kilograms of cooking fuel.

Mrs. Ahmed’s family is one of the many affected by charcoal’s fivefold price increase over the last seven years. In 2007, a 25-kilogram sack sold for 18,000 Somaliland shillings [$2.76 U.S.]*. Now, families must pay 90,000 shillings [$13.84 U.S.].

The price has risen by 50 per cent in the past few months alone − in September, a sack cost only 60,000 shillings [$9.23 U.S.]. Charcoal accounts for about 65 per cent of the Ahmed household’s daily expenditures, so there is little money left for food.

Mrs. Ahmed lives in Hargeisa, which serves as the capital of the self-declared republic of Somaliland. She says: “We spend 9,000 shillings [$1.38] on charcoal out of our 14,000 shilling [$2.15] daily expenditure. The 5,000 shillings [76 U.S. cents] left is not enough … for the family [to eat] three meals per day.”

Omar Aden Yusuf is a researcher with the Academy for Peace and Development. He says: “During our research in 2007, we found one charcoal field in Odweyne [100 kilometres east of Hargeisa] where more than 3,000 trees were being burned down for charcoal daily.”

Mr. Yusuf adds: “The worst environmental degradation is in [the costal region of] Sanaag … because charcoal is trucked from there to [the port of] Bossaso, from where it is exported to the Gulf States.”

Ahmed Abdillahi is an environmental expert. He says, “Two reasons caused the increase in the price of charcoal: government fines on charcoal traders, and the lack of trees to burn for charcoal.”

To stop the deforestation, the government intends to stiffen the fines required by the 1998 environmental law. Currently, anyone caught cutting trees for charcoal is fined 2,500 shillings (38 US cents) per sack.

Shukri H. Ismail Bondare is Somaliland’s Minister for Environment and Pastoralist Development. He says: “The government is working to find alternatives to charcoal because it has already made a negative impact on the Somaliland environment, and our entire forests have now become deserts.”

Mr. Bondare says the government is planning to set up credit facilities to give more people access to kerosene stoves. He adds that the government has made liquefied petroleum gas and kerosene stoves tax-free to help solve the problem.

But charcoal is the preferred fuel. Ali Sh is a student at the University of Hargeisa. He says the people of Somaliland will not stop using charcoal stoves for cooking unless they are forced to seek an alternative. He adds, “They have been accustomed to using charcoal their whole life.”

Amina Omar agrees. The elderly mother is living in State House, a centre for displaced people in Hargeisa. She says, “We don’t know how to use kerosene and LPG; we only know how to use charcoal.”

Mr. Bondare says: “We are calling on the international community to help us to get alternative cooking energy, such as promoting kerosene, LPG, as well as solar energy.”

To read the full article on which this story was based, Soaring charcoal prices hit livelihoods in Somaliland, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100805/soaring-charcoal-prices-hit-livelihoods-in-somaliland

*The original article used an exchange rate of 6,522 Somaliland shillings to 1 U.S. dollar.

Post your comment »

FRW news in brief

1-Mozambique: Fighting cervical cancer

Mozambique is reeling under the twin burden of HIV and cervical cancer. Eleven women die of cervical cancer every day, or 4,000 a year. Yet this cancer is preventable and treatable, if identified early.

Cervical cancer is caused by two of the 40 types of Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV. Being infected with HPV doubles the risk of acquiring HIV, while HIV hastens the progression of cervical cancer. Many people unknowingly carry some types of HPV, but the virus often dies off without medical treatment.

Health authorities are tackling the problem with a three-pronged strategy: information for prevention, routine screening for detection, and better treatment. Routine screening for HPV is now offered with family planning services, and Mozambique’s Ministry of Health hopes to cover all districts by 2017.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/10/fighting-the-neighbours-disease-in-mozambique/

2-Rwanda: Afro-pop, rap and R&B musicians promote healthier diets − through beans

Rwanda’s top musicians are promoting better nutrition and health with a new music video released last week.

The song extols the nutritional benefits of high-iron beans, now available in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda. Almost 40 per cent of Rwandan children do not get enough iron in their diets. In severe cases, this can lower their IQs and learning capacity, resistance to disease, and energy levels.

The campaign has featured musicians such as Miss Jojo, Riderman, and Urban Boyz in a series of road shows across the country. The artists have performed live for more than 30,000 people. Rwandan rapper Riderman says, “We came together to make sure that we say goodbye to malnutrition.”

To read the full article and hear the song, go to: http://appablog.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/afro-pop-rap-and-rb-musicians-promote-healthier-diets-through-beans/

3-Sierra Leone: SMS messages tackle Ebola across West Africa

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, or IFRC, has sent about two million text messages a month to Sierra Leoneans since the Ebola outbreak began in March. The messages advise people how to avoid getting infected, and to seek immediate treatment if they do catch the virus.

The Trilogy Emergency Relief Application system was rolled out in Sierra Leone last year following a cholera outbreak, and allows blanket SMS alerts to be sent to people in precise geographical areas.

Robin Burton is the IFRC’s mobile operator relations consultant. He says, “The service has been brilliant in Sierra Leone, and other countries want to follow suit because Ebola is a clear and present danger.” The charities plan to extend the service to Benin, Togo, Ghana, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia and Burkina Faso.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20141105172430-9qaas/

Post your comment »

Calls for applications: National Press Foundation fellowship

The National Press Foundation is offering 20 fellowships for journalists to attend and report on a conference focusing on tobacco’s global impact on health.

Tobacco use in all its forms increases the risk of diseases that cause millions of deaths and sicken millions more every year. Tobacco is a global industry worth $600 billion annually.

This seven-day, all-expenses-paid fellowship includes three days of educational sessions with leading experts on the tobacco industry, its regulation, the diseases related to tobacco, new products such as e-cigarettes, old products such as shisha, and the latest policy research.

The conference will take place March 15-21, 2015, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The fellowship includes registration, round-trip air or train travel, hotel accommodation and per diem expenses.

Candidates must show that they will report on the topic after the conference.

Proficiency in spoken and written English is required.

The application deadline is December 16, 2014.

For more information and the application form, go to: http://nationalpress.org/programs-and-resources/program/tobaccos-global-impact/

Post your comment »

Video and audio available for download: Ebola: A Poem for the Living

This video animation, created for use in West Africa, is designed to help dispel myths about how Ebola is spread, and to prevent infection and further spread of the disease.

The story is told from the point of view of a Liberian teenager who is speaking to his parents, brother and sister from his hospital bed. He warns them about the disease and tells them how to avoid infection. The story highlights the need for isolation, and shows the heartache of a family which is unable to comfort, touch, or care for the very sick boy.

His words comfort those who must be separated from their loved ones in order to take care of themselves and stay away from those who are ill.

The video, which uses only young voices, is available in several languages, including English (Nigerian, Liberian, Sierra Leonean and South African dialects), French (for Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea), Krio, Pidgin, Portuguese and Swahili.

The video can be downloaded in high definition, low definition, for use on mobile platforms and as stand-alone audio files at this link: http://www.umcom.org/global-communications/ebola-a-poem-for-the-living

Post your comment »

Congratulations to Victoria Dansoa Abankwa, 2014 George Atkins Communication Award winner

Victoria Dansoa Abankwa is one of the three joint winners of Farm Radio International’s George Atkins Communications Award for 2014.

Mrs. Dansoa Abankwa is a dynamic woman who is both passionate and vocal about the development of African agriculture. She produces and presents an interactive farmers’ program called Akuafoa kyɛpɛn on Radio Central, a public radio station that covers Ghana’s Central Region and parts of Western and Ashanti Regions. She volunteers her time to the radio station, fitting in the work around her job as an officer with Women in Agricultural Development for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Ghana.

When Akuafoa kyɛpɛn was facing financial challenges, Mrs. Dansoa Abankwa’s determination and passion to continue broadcasting to farmers came to the fore. She decided to fund the program herself. She uses her own resources and initiative to find farmers, extension officers and other experts to contribute to the program.

Her vision for farmers is a simple but powerful one: Agriculture in Ghana can be a lucrative and rewarding profession.

Mrs. Dansoa Abankwa currently hosts two programs a week on Central Radio, one on general farming practices and another specifically focused on orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP). She is a driving force behind OFSP programming at Central Radio. She visits farmers and health facilities and attends forums, workshops and other events to introduce and educate people on the benefits of OFSP.

In her acceptance speech for the George Atkins Communications Award at a ceremony in Cape Coast on September 19, Mrs. Dansoa Abankwa noted that the training she received from FRI had improved her presentation skills and her ability to interview farmers in the field. She credits this training with helping her win the award. She also thanked her husband and children for always standing by her, and thanked the supportive staff team at Central Radio for sharing ideas and offering assistance.


Post your comment »

SolarAid’s micro solar project in rural Tanzania: Tremendous solar energy potential

This week’s story from Somaliland talks about the rising cost of charcoal. One promising long-term energy solution for Africans, including small-scale farmers, is solar energy.

In April 2009, FRI distributed a script on solar energy in Tanzania. While the potential for solar energy in Tanzania is tremendously high, most people are discouraged by the high initial cost of purchasing solar panels. As a result, few rural Tanzanians are taking advantage of solar power. An example noted in the script is a secondary school in the Mafinga District of Iringa Region which uses kerosene in laboratory tests and cannot use computers because there is no electricity.

SolarAid is a UK-based charitable organization that addresses this issue by producing low-cost solar panels for Tanzanian schools and homes. Our script of the week talks about the organization’s efforts to bring affordable solar power to the Tanzanian countryside.


Post your comment »