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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

4th Pan African AMARC Africa Conference strengthens community radio (by Modibo Coulibaly, National Coordinator for the African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI) in Mali)

From April 27-30, 2009, the historic village of Grand Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire, was the meeting place for 147 members and supporters of community radio in Africa, who came from across the African continent as well as Europe, North America, and Asia. They were gathered for AMARC Africa’s 4th Pan African Conference.http://africa.amarc.org/index.php?p=Pan_African_Conferences&l=EN.)

AMARC Africa invited participants to reflect on the theme: “Increasing the social impact of community radio for poverty reduction, good governance, and adaption to climate change.” In order to raise the level and quality of reflection, many organizations that support radio answered AMARC’s request to be part of the conference, including: the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, UNESCO, PANOS Institute, Farm Radio International, Radio Netherlands, and Enda Tiers Monde. Farm Radio International was asked to share its expertise in developing radio programs for farmers.

Farm Radio International’s contribution was to organize a workshop on writing introductions to radio programs. Blythe McKay, Farm Radio International’s Development Communication Coordinator, and I hosted this workshop on April 29. Twenty-five people participated, most of whom were rural radio host and producers. The workshop took a participatory approach, asking participants to identify the criteria for best radio scripts and to put these techniques into practice by drafting an introduction to a radio script.

The workshop participants shared their feelings on what they had learned. Diogo Simplice from Côte d’Ivoire declared, “The most important thing about a script is clear writing.” Olga Ouermi Toumbouli from Radio RCLD in Djibo, Burkina Faso learned that the intro has to provide “the best hook for the audience.” Louis Roland De Paul from Radio Sita FM in Befang, Cameroon found that the workshop “was very enriching,” while Philip Togbé from the Reseau des Radios Communautaires of Togo said, “It reviewed the steps for radio writing,” and Yagui Issagou, president of Reseau des Radios Communautaires of Benin said, “I really appreciated the way the workshop was run.” Adjoa Hanou Adjisseku said, “Given the importance of the introduction, I begin to understand that a good introduction should create an image.” Dja from Ghana concluded that, “The introduction has to be poignant, build suspense, and capture the audience”.
Workshop participants unanimously requested that Farm Radio International hold more workshops for African rural radio stations. They also requested support for the exchange of radio programming among Farm Radio International’s radio partners. At the end of the workshop, Ms. McKay encouraged participation in a scriptwriting competition on local innovation which Farm Radio International is preparing to launch. This competition will include an online training component. (Stay tuned to Farm Radio Weekly for more information on this upcoming scriptwriting competition.)

This Pan African conference also hosted discussions groups and plenaries, which charted a course for community radio action in support of the reduction of conflict and good governance in Africa, women’s rights and equality, engaging civil society in the struggle against HIV/AIDS, and climate change adaptation. The conference provided the opportunity to set strategic directions for the strengthening of community radio in Africa, the development of radio program content, the evaluation of the social impact of community radio, and the exercise of freedom of communication.

On the last point, the experience of Farm Radio International‘s radio drama project in Nigeria, and the African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI) (which takes place in 5 African countries), were cited as examples of successful radio-based participatory communication campaigns.

The general assembly of voting members was brought together to validate the new constitution and elect a new administrative council. (To see the list of new members, click here:

The choice of Côte d’Ivoire to host the 4th Pan African AMARC Conference was “a mark of solidarity with the Ivorian people, as well as testament to the engagement of AMARC radios with Ivorian radios stations.” For this reason, Ivorian authorities at the highest level showed their support for the conference being held in Côte d’Ivoire. The Ivorian Minister of Communication, Ibrahim Sy Savané declared that the role entrusted to community radio is a vision that his department shares.

2 Responses to “4th Pan African AMARC Africa Conference strengthens community radio (by Modibo Coulibaly, National Coordinator for the African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI) in Mali)”

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