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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.

Issue #5

Happy New Year to All!

We are pleased to bring you the first issue of Farm Radio Weekly for 2008! We are excited that in the few short weeks since we launched the FRW news and information service, more than 100 subscribers from across sub-Saharan Africa have joined the FRW community. We have already begun to hear from you about which aspects of FRW help you to inform and entertain your listeners. We certainly look forward to working closely with you in the New Year!

At the same time, we know that the beginning of this year has brought challenges to many areas where our DCFRN partners and FRW community members work and live. The flooding in parts of southern Africa and post-election violence in Kenya are just two hardships that have been reported in the news, but we know that many unreported hardships continue to touch lives. It is our sincere wish that 2008 will bring peace, health, and happiness to you all.

We hope you enjoy reading this issue of FRW. If you have not done so already, we invite you to visit our online site at: http://weekly.farmradio.org/. On the website, you’ll find new ways to navigate through the current and past issues, places to comment and discuss each news article and information piece, and our weekly poll. We hope that this space will foster an online community where you can exchange ideas, resources, and maybe a few laughs with others who share the joys and struggles of radio broadcasting in rural Africa. This week, FRW reader Olivier Niaux, who did an internship at Réserve de Biosphère de la Boucle du Baoulé in Mali, began a discussion on ways to manage the destructive weed Mimosa pigra, and the FRW poll asks: Which issues related to agriculture and climate change interest your listeners the most?

We look forward to hearing your comments and learning from your discussions! Please remember that you can always contact us directly with your thoughts or contributions by e-mailing farmradioweekly@farmradio.org .

Happy reading!

-The Farm Radio Weekly Team

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In this week’s Farm Radio Weekly:

African Farm News in Review

1. Southern Africa: Floods present risk to health and crops (United Nations Integrated Regional Information Network, AllAfrica.com)
2. Uganda: Women fishers break traditions (New Vision)

Upcoming Events

January 26, 2008 – Global Day of Action: “Another World is Possible”

Radio Resource Bank

One World Radio Africa offers an audio exchange forum

DCFRN Action

“Climate Change Adaptation Goes Soap!” – Workshop for new radio drama held in Abuja

DCFRN Script of the Week

Stop FGC

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African Farm News in Review

You are welcome to use the news stories below in any way that suits your radio organization. You may wish to read one or more of the news stories directly onto the air, adapt them to be more relevant to your audience, or simply use them as ideas for news stories to research locally. However you use the African Farm News in Review, we would like to know! Please post a comment on FRW’s online site or e-mail farmradioweekly@farmradio.org.

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1. Southern Africa: Floods present risk to health and crops (United Nations Integrated Regional Information Network, AllAfrica.com)

Unusually heavy rainfall has caused flooding in many parts of southern Africa and is forecast to continue across the region until February. The floods have already forced thousands of people to flee their land in Zambia and Zimbabwe, and the World Health Organization is concerned that cholera outbreaks and high malaria transmission rates will follow. Too much rain may also harm crops.The heavier than usual rainy season has been attributed to a climate phenomenon known as La Niña, which causes a change in temperature on the Pacific Ocean and alters weather patterns in many parts of the world. It is just the latest in a series of unusual rain patterns that Africans have been coping with over the last few months.

Zambia and Zimbabwe have experienced the most disastrous downpours so far. In Zimbabwe, more than 1,000 farming families from the Mashonaland Central Province have lost their homes and livestock to floods. In Zambia, another 1,000 families from the Southern Provinces were forced off their land. There have also been reports of floods in Mozambique and South Africa that have forced some people to leave their land and stranded others when roads and trains were shut down.

The rains have destroyed countless acres of land in the areas hardest hit by floods. However, even areas that were not flooded may find crops damaged by too much rain. According to Zimbabwe’s state newspaper, most crops are now showing signs of nitrogen deficiency due to waterlogged soil.

Those living in high rainfall areas are advised to take measures to protect themselves and their families from diseases associated with flooding and high humidity. Sam Nyoni is the health inspector for the Mazabuka area of Zambia, where flooding has destroyed many homes and pit latrines. He warned residents that sound sanitation practices, such as the use of latrines, would be necessary to prevent cholera outbreaks. Nyoni suggested that villagers should begin making a drainage system and start constructing houses out of cement.

High humidity, rainfall, and flooding can also create conditions that encourage mosquito breeding and lead to increased malaria transmission. The World Health Organization is calling for governments across southern Africa to distribute insecticide-treated bednets, stock health centres with anti-malaria drugs, and encourage people to take advantage of these resources to reduce their risk.

Meanwhile, parts of eastern Africa are still working to combat a threat to agriculture caused by higher rains towards the end of 2007 – Desert Locusts. The controlled application of pesticides has helped to combat the locusts in Kenya. But parts of eastern Ethiopia and southern Sudan remain at risk from Desert Locusts, which can quickly destroy crops and rangelands.

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2. Uganda: Women fishers break traditions (New Vision)

Some Ugandan women are breaking traditional barriers in the fishing industry in order to obtain a better share of the profit.Historically, men owned boats and other fishing equipment and harvested the fish from Lake Victoria. Women purchased the fish, which they cleaned, prepared, and re-sold.

Women in Uganda are now legally entitled to own boats. However, traditional beliefs remain a barrier. One belief holds that women bring bad luck if they go fishing. The belief that women are not physically strong enough to row boats or haul nets also persists. Women’s groups are working to change this.

On a landing site on Lake Victoria’s northern coast, the Katosi Women Fishing Development Association helps women obtain loans to buy boats, nets, and engines, and to demand equal rights to fish on the waters.

Margaret Nakyejjwe is among the growing number of Ugandan women who own boats. She sold part of her land to purchase the boats and now employs men to operate them. As payment, Ms. Nakyejjwe shares the catch with her male employees.

According to the Ugandan government’s Fisheries Sector Strategic Plan, about 70 per cent of the fish business is conducted by women – but fishermen enjoy most of the benefits. Women involved in the fishing industry are commonly widows or separated from their husbands – a vulnerable group. To help ensure that they receive a consistent supply of fish to prepare and re-sell, even when fish stocks are low, women who do not own fishing assets are often pressured into sexual relationships with fishermen.

These traditional roles and relationships have caused women to receive less financial benefit from the fishing industry, even though they play a larger role. They also put women at greater risk from sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

According to the Ugandan government’s Poverty Eradication Action Plan, empowering women in the fishing industry may benefit entire households in fishing communities. There is evidence that households where women are directly involved in fishing are better off because women are more likely to save and invest their earnings.

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Notes to Broadcasters

Each week, we use the Notes to Broadcasters section of FRW to share additional information and resources that we come across while researching the African Farm News in Review. We will also pass along ideas on how you could further explore issues from the news at your radio organization. If you have an idea or resource related to any of this week’s news stories, we invite you to share it by posting a comment on FRW’s website at: http://weekly.farmradio.org/.

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Notes to Broadcasters on flooding in southern Africa:

More frequent occurrences of flooding and drought have been documented across sub-Saharan Africa in recent years. While the heavy rains currently dousing southern Africa have been attributed to La Niña, increasingly erratic weather, including unexpected rainfall patterns and rising temperatures, is one component of climate change. As this story shows, the effects of climate change on rural communities can go beyond the immediate threats of destruction or degradation of agricultural lands. Pests and weeds that farmers may have learned to manage over time can behave differently in new climatic conditions, and some diseases may increase in incidence and range.

It is important for farmers and farming communities to know how to adapt to these climate changes and reduce the effects of disasters such as floods and drought. As you may know, DCFRN and CTA are holding a scriptwriting competition on African Farmers’ Strategies for Coping with Climate Change, designed to share information on adaptation practices, including water, soil, and livestock management and cropping strategies. As part of this competition, DCFRN has produced an information package on climate change designed for rural radio broadcasters. Details about the competition and the information package can be found online at: http://scriptcompetition.net/

You may also consider sharing local knowledge and practices for coping with climate change and natural disasters by hosting a call-in show or researching a local news story to address questions such as:
-what experiences have farmers in your area had with techniques such as soil management or short-cycle crops that can improve crop production even when weather conditions are poor?
-what resources are available for local farmers to learn more about climate change and the methods they can use to limit its impact on food production?
-what systems have communities in your area established to maintain food supplies in case a disaster such as a flood or drought destroys local crops?

If you broadcast to an area that the World Health Organization warns is at higher risk of malaria (this includes parts of Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, particularly in areas where seasonal or epidemic malaria are common), you may also consider investigating the availability of insecticide-treated bednets and anti-malaria drugs in your area. Farm Radio Weekly is researching ways for farmers to reduce mosquito breeding on their land in order to reduce the risk of malaria. We will endeavour to bring you this information in the next issue. If you know of any such tips, please share them with the FRW community by posting a comment to this story on FRW’s online site or e-mailing farmradioweekly@farmradio.org .
Finally, for information on soil management techniques that can help protect agricultural lands from heavy rains, please look at these DCFRN scripts:
-“Nature is never naked: The importance of mulch” (Package 75, Script 1, June 2005)
-“Soil Conservation Saves the Land, Even When a Hurricane Strikes” (Package 64, Script 4, July 2002)

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Notes to Broadcasters on women fishers:

The gender roles described in this story are not limited to fishing communities in Uganda. In researching this story, we found that the situation is similar in other parts of Africa – and elsewhere around the world – where people make their livelihoods by fishing. Men traditionally own the fishing assets and bring in the fish while women are involved in the labour-intensive processes of preparing and preserving fish. Women often sell the fish, as well. These traditional roles, combined with traditional beliefs, have limited women’s ability to profit from their work in the fishing industry. In Uganda, the government estimates that women contribute more than 70 per cent of the labour to the industry, but take home less than half of the profit. As this story mentions, the male-dominated culture around fishing has also made women vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

If you would like further information on this story, you may visit:
-the Ugandan government’s Fisheries Sector Strategic Plan: http://p15166578.pureserver.info/ilm/docs/policy/Provisional%20Fisheries%20Strategy%20Sector%20Plan.pdf
-a report by PlusNews on how the fish trade in Kenya is aiding the spread of HIV and AIDS: http://www.plusnews.org/report.aspx?reportid=39200

Whether or not you broadcast to a fishing community, you may wish to discuss some of the gender role issues raised by this story:
-how is labour divided between women and men in the farms or fish ports of your area?
-are women in your area able to purchase and own farming or fishing assets – both under law and according to local customs?
-are there women’s groups or other groups in your area who are working to promote women’s involvement in non-traditional industries or changing women’s roles within traditional industries?

Finally, you may wish to re-visit the following two DCFRN scripts related to fishing, gender, and traditional practices:
-“Three Fishing Ladies with a Message about Solar Dryers” from November 2006 (Package 79, Script 6)
-“No more female genital cutting: Villages in Senegal celebrate 10 years of women’s rights” from our most recent script package (Package 82). You can find the full text of this script in the “Script of the Week” section, or link to it online at: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/82-4script_en.asp

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Upcoming Events

This section is a place to share information about events and training opportunities related to agriculture, rural development, radio broadcasting, or other topics of interest. If you know of an event or training opportunity that may interest other radio organizations, please post a comment on FRW’s website http://weekly.farmradio.org/ or e-mail the details to farmradioweekly@farmradio.org.

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January 26, 2008 – Global Day of Action: “Another World is Possible”

The World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) is calling on radio organizations to be part of the World Social Forum’s Global Day of Action on January 26, 2008. The day has been designated for social movements and civil society to mobilize against “neo-liberalism, war, colonialism, racism, and patriarchy.” AMARC will use this day to promote communications rights as a fundamental human right. AMARC has also stated that community radio stations in more than 110 countries will participate by covering social action that takes place on January 26.
For more information on how AMARC and its members plan to participate, visit:
For resources provided by the World Social Forum, including ways to connect with groups participating in the Global Day of Action, visit:

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Radio resource bank

When we hear about a resource that may help you in your radio work, we will post it here in the Radio Resource Bank. This is a great place to share your best tips and favourite online resources with the FRW community. Please post a comment on the FRW website (http://weekly.farmradio.org/), or e-mail farmradioweekly@farmradio.org and we’ll share it in the next Radio Resource Bank.

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One World Radio Africa offers an audio exchange forum

One World Radio Africa is “a global community of producers sharing audio for, and ideas on, radio for development in Africa.” It offers an online forum where radio organizations can upload and download audio files. In the past month alone, radio programs on the following topics have been posted: preventing deforestation, coping with food price increases, and the biofuel crop jatropha. The website is available in English, French, Portuguese, Shqip, Juznoslavenski, Makedonski, and Romani, and audio files are available in an even wider variety of languages. The audio exchange forum can be found online at: http://radioafrica.oneworld.net/mediamanage/search.

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DCFRN action

This section is devoted to news about DCFRN and the many partners in our network. We look forward to hearing news about your radio organization so that we can share it with the FRW community! If you would like to tell us about a new program, successful event, or any other news about your organization, please post a comment on the FRW website, or e-mail farmradioweekly@farmradio.org and we will post your story in the next issue.

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“Climate Change Adaptation Goes Soap!” – Workshop for new radio drama held in Abuja

A unique group of collaborators ranging from soap opera writers to agricultural scientists gathered for a workshop in Abuja, Nigeria, recently. The group was brought together by the Nigerian-based African Radio Drama Association (ARDA) as part of a project aiming to evaluate the effectiveness of radio drama as a tool to help smallholder farmers in northern Nigeria adapt to climate change. Project partners include ARDA, DCFRN, the University of Guelph, Canada, and the Women Farmers’ Advancement Network (WOFAN). The initiative is funded by the Canadian International Development Research Centre’s Climate Change Adaptation in Africa program.

The project will create a 26-episode radio drama designed to entertain as it educates listeners about methods that smallholder farmers can use to adapt to climate change. Rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns are among the challenges that climate change presents. While weaving a dramatic tale, the radio series will provide practical information on adaptation techniques, such as how to use quick-germinating and fast-maturing grains to obtain the best crop with a short or poor rainfall, methods to preserve and rehabilitate soil, and how to harvest and store water for use during the long dry season. Other messages will include: the need to seek out relevant information on climate change and agricultural adaptations, the importance of environmentally sound farming practices, and methods of community organization and action.

At a workshop held in Abuja from December 10-18, scriptwriters and radio producers from six radio stations in northern Nigeria learned more about how climate change affects smallholder farmers who depend on rain-fed agriculture. The stations that participated in the workshop were Borno State Radio Corporation, FRCN Kaduna, FRCN Kano, Kano State Radio Corporation, Gombe Media Corporation, and Pyramid Radio. The participants also discussed the best ways to use radio drama to capture the interest of listeners – how to profile different segments of the audience, create plots and characters that resonate with different audience members, and how to integrate important messages into the entertainment.

Along with the scriptwriters and radio producers from stations that will air the drama, participants included audience representatives, University of Guelph professors, and personnel from WOFAN, ARDA, the Nigerian Environmental Study Group, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture/Promoting Sustainable Agriculture in Borno State project, and the Nigerian Ministry of the Environment. The radio drama, scheduled to air later in 2008, will be recorded in Hausa and Kanuri languages with Nigerian actors and musicians. The drama will be aired in Kano, Kaduna, Borno, and Katsina states. Scripts for the 26-part radio drama will also be translated into English and French and shared with DCFRN partners and FRW community members. They will be posted online at www.farmradio.org, where they will be available for use by any interested radio organizations.This is the second radio drama collaboration between ARDA and DCFRN. The first was a 13-episode drama that incorporated information about desertification in a gripping soap opera. Scripts for this drama were originally sent to partners as part of Package 77, in March 2006, and can be found online at: http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/77_intro_en.asp


Pictures from the ARDA meeting in Abuja

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DCFRN script of the Week

While DCFRN scripts are always available online at http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/, we will use this section to highlight some of our new scripts, as well as past favourites that are still relevant today. If you would like to nominate a script for next week’s DCFRN Script of the Week, please post a comment on the FRW website at: http://weekly.farmradio.org/, or e-mail farmradioweekly@farmradio.org.

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Stop FGC

This week’s featured script comes from the most recent DCFRN package, which focused on the distinctive health issues of women and girls in rural sub-Saharan Africa. It is an inspiring story of a community that – with the leadership of informed women – chose to stop the practice of female genital cutting. This script celebrates the 10th anniversary of the village’s action to protect their girls from the harmful results of the traditional practice. It also explains that more than 2,300 Senegalese communities have since joined the movement to stop female genital cutting.

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