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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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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/

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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/

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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

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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.


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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.


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Good news about Ebola, efficiency and fisheries

Welcome to Farm Radio Weekly!

In issue #311, girls lead the fight against ignorance of Ebola in a poverty-stricken Monrovia neighbourhood, a Ugandan discovers that fuel-efficient stoves can improve his livelihood, and a fishing culture is denied reasonable access to their traditional fishing grounds on the Zambezi.

Two hundred school girls are visiting homes in West Point, Liberia, with a message of hope, hygiene and hand sanitizer. Their message? “Believe it, people, Ebola can kill. Let’s come together to stop Ebola.” It’s their neighbourhood, and the residents are starting to trust in, and act upon, the girls’ message.

For generations, Ugandans have cooked with firewood on a three-stone stove. But these stoves are time- and resource-intensive, and hazardous to health. Felix Ogwal is making a good living building and selling fuel-efficient clay and metal stoves. They’re cheap to buy and use less fuel.

The Tonga people of northwestern Zimbabwe have made their living from the Zambezi River for generations. But government levies are barring the already impoverished fishers from accessing the river, leaving commercial companies to dominate the fishery.

Farm Radio Weekly is planning a series of profiles on Farm Radio International’s broadcasting partners. Interested in being featured in the Weekly? Want to nominate another broadcaster whose story you think we should hear? Check out this week’s Action section, where you can find out how to contact us.

We wish you a favourable wind in your sails, and a safe journey through the week!

-the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Liberia: Meet the girls beating Ebola (Daily Beast)

Two hundred girls weave in and out of alleyways in the seaside slum of West Point, Liberia. Their voices rise in song: “Believe it, people, Ebola can kill. Let’s come together to stop Ebola.”

The girls, along with a few boys, are aged between 16 and 19. Together, they make up Adolescents Leading an Intense Fight Against Ebola, or A-LIFE. Through their own efforts, the group has already reached more than 4,000 homes in West Point, a neighbourhood in Monrovia.

In 2012, UNICEF started an educational group for girls in West Point, a neighbourhood known for its dangers even in a country with one of the highest rates of sexual and gender-based violence in the world. The girls were taught how to protect themselves from sexual violence.

With the outbreak of Ebola, the girls also learned how to protect themselves from this new danger. This gave them something the rest of their community lacked − knowledge and understanding of the virus, and how people are infected.

The girls’ efforts have proved a vital counterpoint to the atmosphere in the city. As the Ebola epidemic swept through the region, Liberia’s president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, ordered a 21-day quarantine of the area. West Point residents’ fear and mistrust of health workers escalated. So when the quarantine was lifted after only 10 days, some concluded that Ebola was not real.

More than half of the Ebola cases and half of the 5,000 deaths attributed to Ebola have occurred in Liberia, according to the World Health Organization, or WHO. But WHO believes that there may be two-and-a-half times as many cases as the official figures indicate.

Sheldon Yett is UNICEF’s representative in Liberia. He says: “[The girls] took what they learned and built on it. They embraced everybody, went to everywhere they could find, and discovered new ways to get information across.”

Carrying educational pamphlets and hand sanitizer, some girls go out into the community three or four days a week; others commit themselves to seven days a week. Schools in Liberia are closed indefinitely, so the girls are making good use of their spare time.

Jessica Neufville is an enthusiastic 16-year-old member of A-LIFE. She says, “I feel good educating people about Ebola and helping them see how they can prevent themselves from getting it.” Ms. Neufville declares, “I could be afraid, but being afraid would stop me from going out to help people.”

Most West Point residents live in shacks with rusted tin roofs. Many lack clean water and electricity. There are less than a dozen toilets to serve more than 50,000 people, who must cope daily with malaria and lethal cases of diarrhoea.

According to UNICEF, A-LIFE’s visits to more than 4,000 homes in West Point have brought changes that are essential to curbing the epidemic. Mr. Yett says: “We see at every street corner in West Point, in front of every shop, people have buckets to wash their hands. We’ve seen a real behaviour change in these communities, and that’s amazing.”

He adds, “Because [the girls] come from that community, they’re known by that community. People understand where these girls are coming from, and people believe their messages.”

To read the full article on which this story was based, Meet the Liberian girls beating Ebola, go to: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/10/29/meet-the-liberian-girls-kicking-ebola-s-ass.html

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Uganda: Farmer profits by making fuel-efficient cookstoves (by Denis Ongeng, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Felix Ogwal has farmed all his life. But the thirty-eight-year-old’s efforts were not paying off. He found it difficult to provide for his family’s daily needs. Mr. Ogwal spent a lot of time thinking about how to find an alternative source of income to supplement his earnings from farming.

So he was delighted to attend a training workshop in 2010 on how to construct cooking stoves. The German NGO, GIZ, ran a workshop in which farmers from Aduku sub-county in Apac district in northern Uganda learned how to make stoves from locally available materials.

Traditionally, most rural Ugandan families use a three-stone stove fuelled by firewood, a previously common resource. But firewood has become scarce as forests are cut back. Charcoal is now expensive, with the price of a sack increasing to around $11 U.S. in urban areas and $4 in the countryside. For many families, this is barely affordable.

When he returned home after the workshop, Mr. Ogwal realized that he could make more money if he built stoves that used charcoal efficiently. He knew that many residents of Lira and other nearby towns used charcoal stoves, but he saw a weakness in their general design. Most of the stoves he examined were made of metal and iron sheets. He uses clay to build his stoves, a material which better preserves the heat from burning charcoal, which saves money and time. He targeted city dwellers with his new stove.

Another advantage of Mr. Ogwal’s stove is that it can be made easily with locally available materials. He explains: “Clay soil is the most important material needed for the stove. Clay soil is prepared with [an] adequate amount of water before the building of the stoves starts.”

After the clay is fashioned into the correct shape, the stove is dried over the flames and then fired so that it hardens and becomes less fragile. Then Mr. Ogwal plates the clay oven with iron sheeting and takes the finished product to the market for sale. He says, “The stove can be made only of clay, or can be covered with iron to improve [its] durability.”

Walter Ojok is one of Mr. Ogwal’s happy customers. He says the new stove saves him quite a bit of the little money he earns. Mr. Ojok explains, “When using this stove, [$1 U.S.] of charcoal can cook meals for two days.”

Karsten Bechtel is an expert with the Department of Bioenergy at Makerere University in Kampala. He says, “Energy-saving stoves reduce smoke by 70 per cent and increase speed of cooking by 50 per cent.” He adds that the smoke produced by the traditional three-stone stove can lead to respiratory diseases.

Mr. Ogwal is convinced that farmers should adopt his kind of stove to save money on charcoal. He sells his stoves for only 6,000 Ugandan shillings [$2.25 U.S.], much less that the commercially-produced stoves available in the market, which cost up to $7 U.S.

Building and selling the stoves has improved the standard of living for Mr. Ogwal’s family. He says: “I earn on average about $80 U.S. per month. This has helped me to feed my family and pay school fees for my children.”

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Zimbabwe: Tonga fishermen cut off from Zambezi lifeline (IRIN)

The Tonga people in Zimbabwe’s Matebeland North Province have for generations depended on fishing for food and income. But government levies are making their lives increasingly difficult.

Salani Nyirenda is a village headman. The 69-year-old from Binga South District says: “Government must allow us complete freedom to fish from the river. We must also be … [allowed] … to set up vegetable gardens along the river, and there is [a] need for irrigation schemes along the Zambezi … There is so much poverty here.”

The area is too dry to grow crops successfully, but rich in mineral and timber resources. Local communities catch bream and kapenta in the Zambezi River. They eat the fish and sell them to local people or commercial buyers from as far away as Harare, some 500 kilometres to the east.

The Tonga used to enjoy unlimited access to the Zambezi. But the government began charging levies to fish in the river two decades ago. At first, the fees were small and the authorities were relaxed. But fees have increased over the years.

Kudakwashe Munsaka is the director of Siabuwa Development Trust, an NGO that works on local issues. The Trust has been lobbying the government to develop the area’s rich natural resources, which include indigenous timber and deposits of coal, gold, tantalite, uranium and diamonds. But nothing has come of their efforts.

Mr. Munsaka says: “This leaves the Zambezi River as our only salvation … there should be unhindered access to it, but the … levies [are] driving poverty levels up.”

Anyone wishing to fish with nets or rods must pay $5 U.S. per day. Mr. Munsaka asks, “Where can the villagers get the $5 a day to pay to fish when almost all of them are living on less than a dollar a day?”

Commercial fishers from urban areas now dominate fishing on the Zambezi River. They can afford to pay annual fees of over $10,000 U.S. to local and national authorities because they sell their catch in urban areas at higher prices than local fishers.

Some locals fish without paying fees, or outside regulated fishing times. If they are caught, they often have to pay fines they cannot afford. The Parks Authority charges poachers $20, and fines those with unlicensed boats $50.

Many locals complain of being victimized by corruption even when they pay levies. Tracy Munenge belongs to the Zubo Balizwi Trust, a women’s fishing co-operative. The 34-year-old mother of two says, “The parks and council officials leave you to fish and, at the end of the day, take whatever you [have] caught, saying you were poaching.” A Parks Authority spokeswoman denies that their officials are corrupt. She says, “We are operating within our mandate.”

Francis Mukora works with the Zimbabwe Community Development Trust, an NGO that campaigns for members of disadvantaged communities. He says that preventing the Tonga from fishing the Zambezi contradicts government policy to empower its citizens.

Mr. Mukora adds: “This fuels poverty and food insecurity while depriving [locals] of highly nutritional but affordable food. While other people have been given farms [through the land reform program], people from Binga must be empowered through adequate access to the Zambezi.”

To read the full article on which this story was based, Zimbabwe’s Tonga Fishermen cut off from Zambezi Lifeline, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100670/zimbabwe-s-tonga-fishermen-cut-off-from-zambezi-lifeline

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FRW news in brief

1-Central African Republic: Violence hits food production, economy ‘broken’

According to a new assessment by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO, violence in the Central African Republic has taken a heavy toll on farming.

The report notes that livestock numbers have fallen by as much as 77 per cent as a result of cattle raids during the two-year conflict.

Food reserves in rural areas are more than 40 per cent below normal levels. Markets have shut down because traders fear for their safety.

FAO representative Pierre Vauthier says, “The economy has been completely broken,” and he fears there could be a “total collapse of production” after the next harvest.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20141030175929-ng1b7/

2-Somalia: At least three million in need of aid

In September, the United Nations said that more than a million people in Somalia were struggling to meet their daily nutritional needs.

But now, according to United Nations’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the country is threatened with famine. Mr. Ban says: “Over three million Somalis are in need of humanitarian assistance, and unfortunately that number is growing. I urge donors to step up contributions to avert another famine in Somalia.”

Philippe Lazzarini is the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia. He says rapidly rising malnutrition and food shortages resemble the warning signs that preceded the 2011 famine in which 260,000 people died.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20141029201643-dz0eq/

3-South Sudan: Fighting likely to surge as rainy season ends

The imminent end of the rainy season means warring parties in South Sudan’s civil war are preparing for major offensives, according to the think tank, International Crisis Group, or ICG.

ICG says fighting eased during the rainy season, giving both sides time to import arms and marshal their forces.

Rival factions have been fighting for nearly a year, with a growing number of militias and self-defence forces joining the conflict. This is occurring despite ongoing peace talks and several ceasefire agreements.

The conflict has disrupted harvests and food markets. Famine was averted this year by emergency food aid and normal rainfall. But U.N. agencies recently warned that at least 3.8 million people in South Sudan will need humanitarian aid.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20141030183300-piaoj/

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Call for entries: New media contest

The Media School at Bournemouth University, U.K., is accepting entries from students, bloggers, artists and writers for its New Media Writing Prize, or NMWP. The international competition is open to anyone, anywhere.

NMWP is looking for innovative and interactive storytelling (fiction or non-fiction) written specifically for delivery and reading/viewing on a PC or Mac, the Web or hand-held devices such as iPads and mobile phones.

The entry can be a short story, novel, documentary or poem and can use words, images, film or animation with audience interaction.

The overall winner will receive £1,000 (approximately $1,600 U.S.). The student winner will receive a three-month work placement at Unicorn Training, a leading e-learning company in Dorset, U.K. There will also be a People’s Choice winner.

The general deadline is November 28, 2014, but students can submit entries as late as December 12, 2014. To read the competition rules, go to: http://newmediawritingprize.co.uk/Terms_and_Conditions.pdf

For more information, go to: http://www.newmediawritingprize.co.uk/

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African Press Organization press releases − direct to your inbox

Have you ever found it difficult to keep up with a breaking story, or understand the underlying history of a news event? Do you need to source up-to-date and archived information, along with quotes and pictures?

The African Press Organization provides free content for journalists and ensures that news is delivered promptly to the African press. APO owns the largest archive of Africa-related news releases.

The African News Source, or APO-Source, is an online database of Africa-related news releases. It offers free access to tens of thousands of news releases categorized by country, industry and subject. Journalists can run searches by keyword, date, country, industry, subject, or company name. The database can be accessed through this link: http://appablog.wordpress.com/.

APO also runs a mailing list, and you can sign up for free. It distributes information, as it is released, about countries, topics, and institutions of interest via email. Most press releases come with verifiable links but, as always, check your sources!

To sign up for the mailing list, go to http://www.apo-opa.com/subscribe_form.php and fill out the form indicating your preferences. Then just click Subscribe.

For more information, go to: http://www.apo-opa.com/for_journalists.php?L=E

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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!

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Improved cookstoves make life easier for women

This week’s story from Uganda highlights a farmer who makes a good income from designing and selling fuel-efficient cookstoves.

Improved cookstoves are especially valuable to women because women are often in charge of cooking in the home. If there is HIV and AIDS in the house and community, women’s work increases in many ways. If their husbands die, women must take on additional farm work. Many women are also responsible for orphans or other family members who have been left homeless. Women also care for people living with HIV at home. There are always funerals and community events to plan and attend – and all of these take time.

These short radio spots show that, if women replace their cooking fire or three-stone stove with a more efficient cookstove that burns less fuel, they will not have to spend as much time collecting firewood. More efficient cookstoves mean less work for women.

Improved cookstoves can be made of clay, dried mud, or metal. They may burn firewood, dung, charcoal, or coal. In some African countries, cookstoves are made and sold by women’s collectives. Certain types of stoves are popular in some countries, including Kenya Ceramic Jiko, Kuni Mbili and Upesi cookstoves.

Before you play these spots, you may want to find out which kinds of cookstoves are available in your area, where they are sold, and the price. Then you can incorporate that information into each spot.


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On the ground and in the air

Welcome to Farm Radio Weekly. Issue #310 looks at erosion, entrepreneurs and efforts to educate farmers how to best dry their groundnuts.

Pastoralists and farmers in northern Tanzania are facing serious problems with soil erosion. Long, deep chasms caused by heavy rains and livestock movements are not only ruining farmland, but are dangerous to people and animals.

Soungalo Traoré was repairing a radio one day when he realized the set contained a transmitter powerful enough to broadcast to nearby houses. With some hard work and a little financial assistance, he and a colleague have turned the radio set into a community radio station!

Groundnut farmers often experience aflatoxin problems caused by fungal infections in poorly dried harvests. A project in Malawi used field days and radio programs to spread the message about how to dry groundnut pods more effectively with Mandela cocks.

The Script of the week contains more information about how to prevent aflatoxin in groundnuts. Read about it below and use the script to inform your listening audience how to avoid this unpleasant and toxic problem.

Keep broadcasting!

-the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Tanzania: Cattle trails become dangerous erosion ‘super-highways’ (by Agnes Daniel and Loomoni Morwo, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Jeremiah Chuma stares down into a chasm. He is standing only a stone’s throw from his family home in Ngarash, a village 30 kilometres west of Arusha. The three-kilometre-long and six-metre-deep korongo, or canyon, cuts across his land like a knife wound.

Mr. Chuma is a 49-year-old father of six who grows maize, beans, coffee and flowers on three and a quarter hectares of land. The land in front of his house used to be a passageway for livestock, but has become so eroded that it is dangerous for both people and animals.

Mr. Chuma looks north across the dry, dusty plains toward the green pastures of northern Tanzania’s Monduli Mountains. Over the last 20 years, wind and water have seriously eroded the clay-rich soils. Unfortunately, the environmental devastation doesn’t stop at Mr. Chuma’s doorstep. The korongo continues south, cutting through other farming villages.

Mr. Chuma says the problem was originally caused by locals who gathered their cattle here before moving the herds north to graze in the mountains. He explains, “Over time, the path became over-grazed and the soil started to erode … I give a warning to anyone who comes on my land, and I restrict any cattle from grazing here. Livestock have fallen in and died.”

Pastoralists such as the Maasai suffer financially when they lose animals; their livestock are their livelihoods.

Nestled in the surrounding hills is the village of Lashaine, where Orkeeswa Secondary School students have a bird’s eye view of the environmental impact caused by the many korongo which scar the landscape. Ellie Turner is the school’s geography teacher. She is encouraging her students to take an interest in climate change.

Ms. Turner says: “I’ve spoken to a lot of older people about the climate here. They say it has become much drier and the rains have been less regular … we get short, intense rainfall which [erodes] the topsoil.” The heavy rains wash away the tightly packed clay soil and vegetation, deepening the korongos.

The students visited farming communities as part of their environmental studies. They were tasked with finding out how the villagers are affected by the korongos, and what they are doing to counter the threat.

The students spoke with Martha Lesian in the village of Ngarash. The 42-year-old mother of nine has lost five cows, two calves and part of her farmland to an encroaching korongo.

Mrs. Lesian says, “My farmland has been reduced because of the erosion. I was growing maize on one acre of land. It was enough to feed my family. Now I have to buy two bags of maize every month.”

She told the students that two people have died in the korongo. A girl who attended the village primary school fell in during the rainy season and drowned, and a woman on her way to the market in Monduli took a shortcut through the steep korongo, but fell in and died.

Mrs. Lesian says: “I warn children playing near it to stay away. I also warn people trying to cross it, especially during the rainy season. But many don’t listen.”

Residents in the nearby village of Lashaine have built bridges over the steepest parts of the korongo. Mr. Chuma showed students how he and other villagers have planted minyaa trees and embraced counter-erosion measures such as building soil dams inside the korongo.

He says: “The [tree] roots help bind the soil, thus trapping it and decreasing the depth of [the korongo]. Also, the trees give off an unappealing scent to cattle, discouraging them from coming near.” The community hopes that these efforts will prevent the damage from getting worse.

Agnes Daniel and Loomoni Morwo are students at Orkeeswa Secondary School in Monduli, Tanzania. They were assisted in researching and writing this article by Farm Radio International volunteer, Adam Bemma.

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