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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 #103

Hello to all!

Welcome, readers, to this week’s edition to Farm Radio Weekly. We extend a special welcome to this week’s newest subscribers: Aaron Thacher, from Samaritan’s Purse in Niger; and Otim Jack and Sarah Apio, from Radio APAC in Uganda. We also invite you to share Farm Radio Weekly with any colleagues who are interested in agriculture and radio in Africa, by inviting them to subscribe to FRW at: http://farmradio.org/english/partners/fr_weekly_subscribe.asp.

Last week, we published a special edition to mark International Women’s Day, but our coverage of issues of importance to rural women is ongoing. Our first story is from Swaziland, where a major advancement in women’s rights has been achieved. A recent court ruling gives some women, for the first time, the right to own and administer property. Another issue of great importance is raised in this week’s Script of the Week: maternal health. We’ll pursue this issue further, next week, with a news story that looks at efforts to recognize and improve upon maternal health problems in Burkina Faso.

Our second news story looks at an outbreak of Rift Valley Fever in South Africa. This is an important disease to be aware of, as it can spread from animals to humans and, in recent years, it has appeared in a number of African countries. Also remember that you can look for radio scripts about livestock health issues relevant to your community in Farm Radio’s online script bank: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/livestock.asp.

Happy reading!

-The Farm Radio Weekly Team

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In this week’s Farm Radio Weekly:

African Farm News in Review

1. Swaziland: Landmark ruling gives Swazi women property rights (IPS, IRIN)

2. South Africa: Farmers advised to protect themselves against Rift Valley Fever (News 24, IRIN)

Upcoming Events

-April 9, 2010: Deadline to apply for fellowship to cover United Nations General Assembly

Radio Resource Bank

-A guide for using drama scripts

Farm Radio Action

-Reminder: Please tell us how your organization celebrated International Women’s Day

Farm Radio Script of the Week

-Maternal health drama

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1. Swaziland: Landmark ruling gives Swazi women property rights (IPS, IRIN)

When Dolly Ndlovu applied for a loan, she didn’t know what she was getting herself into. The loan covered payments on a home she shared with her husband. Ms. Ndlovu works as a school principal and makes the house payments herself. So she was shocked to discover that, according to Swazi law, her husband is the sole owner of the home. Another outrage came when she separated from her husband and moved out of the house. Her husband continued to live there with another woman. But Ms. Ndlovu’s bank refused to stop deducting loan payments from her salary.

Ms. Ndlovu’s situation is not unique. Until recently, Swazi women could pay for property, but could not own it. As a result, husbands could chase their wives from their homes, leaving them with nothing. Or sell the matrimonial home without their wives’ knowledge.

A new court ruling should change all of that. The landmark ruling affects women in Swaziland married under community of property. Community of property is a legal term that applies to some Swazi marriages. Under the former law, it meant that everything the couple owned before marriage and everything they earned or bought during marriage came under the control of the husband. Thanks to the new ruling, women married under community of property now have the right to register property in their names. It further ensures that women will be equal partners in administering the property.

Representatives from the Swazi women’s movement hail the ruling as an important step towards legal reform. They say that property laws need to catch up to the country’s constitution, which was enacted in 2005. The constitution granted equal rights for women in political, economic, and social activities.

Doo Aphane is chairperson of the Swazi Gender Consortium. It was her court case that resulted in the landmark ruling. She argued that the Swazi Deeds Registry Act was unconstitutional because it discriminated against her and other married women.

The case was judged by Justice Qinisile Mabuza. She is the only woman on Swaziland’s High Court. Justice Mabuza ruled in favour of Ms. Aphane. She also ordered parliament to remove the Deeds Registry Act and other discriminatory laws from the books.

The ruling holds promise for women who want to purchase equipment or start a business. They will be able to use property registered in their name as collateral for loans. Lungile Mzizi is a project manager for the Business Women’s Forum of Swaziland. She says Swazi women will now be able to enter businesses such as construction and property development because the new law clarifies property ownership between wife and husband.

Unfortunately, the ruling does not apply to all Swazi women. It applies only to those married in a civil ceremony, under community of property. A larger number of couples live under customary law, administered by traditional chiefs.

The legal reform will not apply retroactively, either. So Ms. Ndlovu must continue to pay for the home her estranged husband shares with another woman. She says she is consoled by the fact that her child will not face the same barriers.

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2. South Africa: Farmers advised to protect themselves against Rift Valley Fever (News 24, IRIN)

Heavy rains have brought disease to parts of South Africa. There has been an outbreak of Rift Valley Fever in the provinces of Free State and Northern Cape.

Officials say the outbreak is under control. But they warn farmers to use gloves and protective clothing when they come into contact with animal blood, organs, or flesh – for example, during animal birthing or slaughter. People in Free State and Northern Cape are also advised not to consume fresh blood, milk, or meat.

Rift Valley Fever is transmitted amongst animals by mosquitoes. It causes abortion and death in young sheep, cattle, and goats. It can be transmitted to humans through contact with the blood, organs, or flesh of infected animals. Symptoms in humans include mild fever, headaches, and muscle pain.

As of March 9, one person in South Africa had died from the outbreak. Five others tested positive for Rift Valley Fever. More than 1,000 livestock have died.

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Notes to broadcasters on women’s land rights:

At the recent launch of the Gender and Land Rights Database, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations called inequalities between men and women with regard to land access “one of the major stumbling blocks to rural development.” In this week’s news article from Swaziland, we see how a step forward for women’s land rights not only addresses injustices, but also opens up economic opportunities. For the full text of the legal ruling, go to: http://www.scribd.com/doc/27384541/Mary-Joyce-Doo-Aphane-Swaziland-Court-Judgement.

You may wish to use the Gender and Land Rights Database to search for information on the major social, economic, political, and cultural factors that impact women’s rights and access to land in your country; or to see how land rights compare from country to country. The online database includes information on national and customary laws governing land use; property rights and inheritance; international treaties and conventions; and land tenure. It also lists civil society groups that work on land issues and provides other related statistics. Database users can access all information available for a particular country, or select specific topics, such as the total number of land holders in a specific state. The database also generates reports which compare two or more countries. The Gender and Land Rights Database can be found at: http://www.fao.org/gender/landrights.

For more information on women’s land rights, you may refer to the following articles:

-“Gender Issues in Land Tenure under Customary Law,” published by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research: http://www.capri.cgiar.org/wp/..%5Cpdf%5Cbrief_land-05.pdf
-“Women’s Right to Land: A Human Right,” published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: http://www.fao.org/NEWS/2002/020302-e.htm
-“Land rights: The struggle of African women” (in French only): http://www.afrik.com/article14727.html
-“Resources for Journalists,” produced by the International Food Policy Research Institute, on land rights in Africa: http://www.ifpri.org/media/20060518Land.asp

These Farm Radio scripts deal with the issue of women’s property rights in various ways. If you air this news story, you may wish to round out your broadcast with one of the following:

Promote gender equality and empower women (Package 78, Script 3, July 2006), featuring an interview with a women’s rights advocate in Uganda
Women, property, and inheritance (Package 73, Script 4, January 2005), featuring a fictionalized interview with a lawyer about inheritance laws
Land ownership rights: Access denied – Why women need equal access to land (Package 57, Script 9, October 2000), a drama in which a husband and wife discuss land rights and customary law
Why women need to know about land rights (Package 37, Script 7, July 1995), a straightforward narrative addressed to women in the listening audience

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Notes to broadcasters on Rift Valley Fever:

Recent cases of Rift Valley Fever in South Africa are the latest outbreak of a disease which can be deadly to humans and financially devastating to livestock industries. Rift Valley Fever was first described in the 1930s, when the disease hit sheep herds in Kenya’s Rift Valley. Subsequent outbreaks have affected sheep, goats, cattle, and camels, in addition to humans. Outbreaks have been recorded in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, and Yemen.

The impact of Rift Valley Fever on livestock also varies. According to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), between 10-70 per cent of infected calves and up to 90 per cent of infected lambs will die, while mortality rates are usually less than 10 per cent among infected adult cows and 20-30 per cent among infected adult sheep. The OIE also reports that abortion rates can be as high as 85 per cent among cows and 100 per cent among sheep infected with Rift Valley Fever.

The severity of the disease in humans ranges from mild to severe. In its mild form, Rift Valley Fever causes flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle pain, joint pain, and headaches, and usually lasts 4-7 days. The disease is frequently deadly in the haemorrhagic fever form.

Additional information on how the disease affects humans can be found here: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs207/en/

Additional information on how the disease affects animals can be found on these sites:

A Farm Radio script package originally published in April 2002 provides additional information on livestock diseases. The script Animals diseases can affect people (Package 63, Script 5), discusses several diseases that, like Rift Valley Fever, can be passed from animals to humans, and how people can protect themselves. You can find this script online, along with A guide for broadcasters to some important Livestock Diseases (Package 63, Script 1), which includes information on Rift Valley Fever and Foot and Mouth Disease.

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April 9, 2010: Deadline to apply for fellowship to cover United Nations General Assembly

Journalists from developing countries who are between the ages of 25 and 35 are encouraged to apply for a fellowship to cover the next United Nations General Assembly. The Dag Hammarskjöld Scholarship Fund for Journalists sponsors travel to New York City, as well as accommodations and per diem allowances for approximately two months.

Applicants must be employed full-time as professional journalists for a radio, print, television, or internet media organization. They should have a good command of the English language and demonstrate an interest in and commitment to international affairs and to conveying a better understanding of the United Nations. For this year, applications will not be accepted from Egypt, Pakistan, Philippines, or Ghana, as these nations were awarded fellowships in 2009.

For more information, see http://unjournalismfellowship.org/node/542. For specific questions, e-mail info@unjournalismfellowship.org.

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A guide for using drama scripts

All radio broadcasters face the challenge of creating programs that are interesting and entertaining. In your work to fill the airwaves with interesting programs, you may be familiar with the production of radio dramas – or maybe you have come across a radio drama script but were unsure of how to use it. Farm Radio International sometimes offers drama scripts intended to be both educational and entertaining. Drama provides a framework to help listeners understand how attitudes and behaviours shape everyday events. Through drama, listeners connect with characters and their struggles – and become involved in finding solutions to the characters’ conflicts and challenges. This week’s Script of the Week is a two-part drama. It deals with maternal health and gender issues through the story of a fictional couple preparing for the birth of their first child.

If you choose to produce this short series, remember that there is much more to producing a radio drama than reading from a script. Here are some important things to consider when bringing radio dramas to life (adapted from the March 2003 Voices newsletter). If you have produced a drama at your organization and have other tips to offer, please share them by posting a comment to this article!

Find the right actors. You don’t need professional or experienced actors to produce a successful radio drama. Try to find willing volunteers through theatre groups in your area, or at local schools and community centres. Also, consider casting people you know who are natural speakers and would be willing to participate. When casting roles, it is important that you find voices that are clearly distinct from one another to provide texture in the production and to avoid confusion for the audience. Avoid casting based on what you see and pay attention to the actors’ ability to convey action and emotion through what you hear.

Practice, practice, practice. It is important for your actors and studio technicians to feel comfortable with their cues, and to develop appropriate timing and pacing for the drama. When you have chosen your actors, ask them to read through the script together, in advance, so that everyone will be comfortable with their lines. Discuss with them ways to adapt the script to suit their needs and change awkward wording. The cast should have additional rehearsals to develop natural conversational tones and timing. When you feel everyone is ready, assemble them together to rehearse in the recording studio. This will help you plan how equipment such as microphones will be shared, and how to limit unnecessary noise (such as ruffling of script pages).

Plan sound effects. Though radio drama scripts such as the one provided below usually contain cues for sound effects, you may wish to adapt these cues for your audience and local situation. While you can add a lot to a drama script by using sound effects to set the scene or suggest an action, you must plan carefully. You might be tempted to use so many effects that your audience will become confused. Keep effects simple, consistent and easily identifiable.
Use music. Use the instructions in these scripts to guide your choice of music. Music in radio dramas can be very useful as a simple transitional device. A clear, uncomplicated melody can be very effective. Perhaps you can find musicians in your community who are willing to participate in your production.

Prepare the studio. Whether you are recording the drama in advance or broadcasting live, you will need to set up your studio. If you have enough equipment, position each of your main characters at their own microphone. Minor characters can share a microphone. If you have just one microphone, instruct the actors to step back when they are not involved in a particular scene or when they do not speak for several lines. Actors should feel comfortable with their microphones and should practice projection as well. Usually, a regular conversational volume and tone will be appropriate, but you can also convey distance between characters by placing them away from the microphone. Work out ways to limit background noise on the recording. If possible, place scripts on stands to avoid the sound of paper shuffling. Practice with actors to limit heavy breathing, coughing or footsteps.

Put it all together. The easiest way to record a radio drama is in “real-time,” when everything is performed – including sound effects and music – without interruptions. This allows for a more natural feeling and momentum to come through on your final product. The energy and spontaneity of everyone being “kept on their toes” will contribute to the recording as well. If mistakes are made during the drama – keep going (especially if you’re on air!) If you are recording, you can go back to the opening of the line and retake the dialogue after you have reached the end of the scene.

The final product. If you recorded the drama, and you have the necessary equipment, you can edit in retakes and edit out pauses and distracting noises. In all stages of production, you should pay close attention to what you hear rather than what you see. Try closing your eyes occasionally to focus on what works well and what should be changed.

Remember – a successful radio drama allows your audience to picture what they are listening to and imagine that they are right in the middle of the action. As you can see, you don’t need professional actors or special equipment to tell a good story. With good planning, teamwork and imagination, you will be able to bring your scripts to life.

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Tell us how your organization celebrated International Women’s Day

Farm Radio Weekly is still interested in hearing about how your organization celebrated International Women’s Day. Maybe you produced a radio program about prominent local women or about issues affecting local women. Perhaps you held or covered an event for Women’s Day. We would love to hear how you marked the occasion.

Please send a short description to FRW Editor Heather Miller at hmiller@farmradio.org. We will publish responses we receive in a future edition of FRW.

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Maternal health drama

This week’s featured scripts are a good example of how drama can convey important messages in an entertaining way. In this two-part series on maternal health, we see how traditional and non-traditional beliefs play out as newly-married couple Azuma and Tontie make their home and prepare for the birth of their first child. Through characters that are easy to relate to, the drama conveys vital messages about maternal healthcare during pregnancy, labour, and following the birth.

You can find these scripts online at:

http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/83-1script_en.asp (Part One)
http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/83-2script_en.asp (Part Two)

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