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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 #137


Welcome to the many new subscribers who have joined our network in recent weeks: Ohemeng Tawiah from Nhriya FM in Ghana; Charles Munjeza from Department of Agricultural Technical and Extension Services, Zimbabwe; Mercyline Jerusa from Egerton University and Peter Ingolo, a farmer, both from Kenya; Shepi Mati from Democracy Radio IDASA, and Willemse Douw, an environmental adviser both from South Africa; Felix Orianan, from Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service, Nigeria; Francois Ntedika from PARC and  Jean Paul Ilinga with Arderi Kolwezi, both in DRC; El Hadji Saidou Nourou Dia from UNHCR in Senegal; Simon Mpei with Cooperation et Developpement sans Frontiere, Alain Mevengue with CRTV Radio, and Georges Mbatsogo with ODELBIS, all in Cameroon; and Jean Marc Besse with Horizon in Madagascar.

This week’s issue is dedicated to World AIDS Day. We are proud to present three new stories written especially for Farm Radio Weekly. The stories focus on farmers’ lives, and serve to highlight their daily concerns in relation to HIV and AIDS. Next week we will bring you more stories from farmers on HIV and AIDS.

The first story is from Burkina Faso. Free antiretroviral medication now allows many people living with HIV to take medicine regularly. But concerns remain about adequate nutrition and the future of funding for support programs.

In Zambia, a group of farmers living with HIV has formed a small co-operative. They grow vegetables and keep livestock. They produce enough to meet their own nutritional needs and to donate food to other HIV-positive community members.

From Malawi, we receive a variety of impressions about World AIDS Day. Farmers welcome greater involvement in activities, and are keen to raise awareness and learn more.

In 2009, around 1.3 million people died from AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. In the same year, 1.8 million people were infected with HIV. The vast majority of people living with HIV and AIDS in Africa are between the ages of 15 and 49. Because the most productive age group in society is affected, these statistics translate into harsh realities for millions. Families cannot pass agricultural knowledge through generations, food production and security drops, and the make-up of the family changes, with more child- or grandparent-headed households. Yet our stories show farmers wanting more information, initiating their own activities and supporting each other.

A note of concern runs through the stories – that while many people benefit from free antiretroviral medication, they still need continued support of various forms.

We hope you enjoy these stories. Perhaps they will inspire you to research and produce your own stories and programs to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS. Remember to share your efforts with us at: 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 – World AIDS Day Special edition

1. Burkina Faso: Free HIV medication does not guarantee a better life (by Nourou-Dhine Salouka for Farm Radio Weekly in Burkina Faso)

2. Zambia: Co-operative farmers help meet dietary needs of people living with HIV (by Brian Moonga for Farm Radio Weekly in Zambia)

3. Malawi: World AIDS Day strengthens small scale-farmers (by Mark Ndipita for Farm Radio Weekly in Malawi)

Upcoming Events

International Nieman Fellowships: Deadline December 15

Radio Resource Bank

Two manuals on HIV and AIDS reporting

Farm Radio Action

Latest Farm Radio International script package released: Water Integrity

Farm Radio Script of the Week

Misconceptions and Acceptance: People Living with HIV/AIDS Need Love and Compassion

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Burkina Faso: Free HIV medication does not guarantee a better life (by Nourou-Dhine Salouka for Farm Radio Weekly in Burkina Faso)

Celine is a 48-year-old widow who has been living with HIV for five years. She used to work on other people’s land to earn the money to feed her seven children. But her condition worsened in 2007. Since then she has not been able to return to the rice fields. For her, everyday life is very complicated. She explains, “Since I’m sick, I cannot work. Even for eating, it’s very difficult.”

Living with HIV in rural areas is particularly difficult. Bama is a rural town 400 kilometres southwest of Ouagadougou. HIV-positive patients in Bama struggle to cope, despite receiving free antiretroviral medication. Many cannot afford all the medical tests they need. And those living with HIV cannot always afford a healthy diet.

Celine needs regular tests to evaluate the effectiveness of her antiretroviral medication. But the test is expensive. She pays 10,000 CFA francs each month for the test, about 20 US dollars. This includes the cost of transport to the nearest laboratory, about 40 kilometres away in Bobo-Dioulasso.

However, Celine says that her costs have gone down. In 2007, she had to pay for her medication. This cost 5000 francs, or ten US dollars, each month. In 2009, the government began distributing free antiretrovirals. She says, “Before the free ARVs, I had to pay for drugs. When I did not have any money, I would suspend the treatment.” She does not have to do this any longer. Smiling, she says, “My condition is improving day by day.” However, she still has to find the resources to feed herself and her family.

Stories of people in need are common in Bama. People living with HIV can, however, count on the support of a local association, the Development Association of Sinignassigui Bama. Founded in 1999, it is an association of farmers engaged in the fight against HIV and AIDS. The organization conducts awareness campaigns and distributes food to people with HIV. It encourages community discussion about health and nutrition. The association provides psychological support to 64 people living with HIV. To combat discrimination, the association organizes community meals which serve both HIV-positive and HIV-negative people.

People are grateful for the assistance the association provides. Moussa is a 46-year-old mechanic who benefits from the organization’s work. He hopes they will start other programs. He says, “To be independent, we need microcredit.”

But funding for programs to support people living with HIV is minimal. Current levels of support may drop. At the 18th International AIDS Conference, held in Austria in July 2010, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria rejected projects submitted by Burkina Faso and Cameroon. In 2011, funding for HIV and AIDS support programs in Burkina may drop 30% to 40% from current levels.

Organizations fighting AIDS in Burkina Faso condemned this decision. In the short term, it will mean a serious drop in support for those living with HIV in the country. For now, the community in Bama refuses to accept this situation. Soon they may have to. With less funding, how much longer can support organizations continue their work?

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Zambia: Co-operative farmers help meet dietary needs of people living with HIV (by Brian Moonga for Farm Radio Weekly in Zambia)

One and a half million Zambians live with HIV. In a population of 12 million, this is one in eight people. The government’s ambitious antiretroviral program aims to ensure that everyone who needs the life- prolonging medication will receive it. But food insecurity and malnutrition will remain challenges for many affected families, especially in rural areas.

A rural farming group in Mumbwa District has hatched their own food security initiative. It aims to meet the dietary needs of HIV-positive people in the small district 50 kilometres west of the capital Lusaka.

Kwasha Farming Co-operative Initiative was founded two years ago. It is a community self-help project. Most of its members are HIV-positive. The co-operative runs a successful small-scale farm, where members grow various kinds of agricultural produce. The group owns half a hectare of land. Members grow vitamin A-rich vegetables such as carrots and green vegetables as well as fruit.

Some produce is sold, and some is used to meet the nutritional needs of co-operative members living with HIV. In addition, the co-operative grows enough so they can give vegetables away freely to people in the wider community who are HIV-positive. This supports people who either cannot afford to buy vegetables, or cannot get to market.

Darius Munkombwe is chairperson of the fifteen member co-operative. He says, “We currently grow specific fruits rich in rare vitamins. We have a few mango trees … this is a key source of vitamin A, we are told by nutritional experts.”

Some members living with HIV are actively involved in farming activities, such as weeding and watering vegetables and applying fertilizer. According to Mr. Munkombwe, each member is allowed to take home five eggs, a bunch of vegetables and other food harvested from the farm.

The local community supports the co-operative. Community members donate farming inputs like fertilizer, tools and even labour. Kwasha Co-operative is attempting to obtain a grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. They have also approached local agricultural authorities. The group believes that such assistance will help them significantly increase their farming output.

Mr. Munkombwe says, “We need more support to enable us to feed everyone in this community who is on AIDS medication. But for us to do that, money and technical skills need to be injected into our initiative.”

The co-operative owns some livestock. The odour  from the piggery is evidence of the group’s active involvement in small-scale livestock rearing. Mr. Munkombwe explains, “We have two hundred birds, layers which produce about one hundred eggs per day. We also have ten adult pigs and once we acquire more land, we hope to introduce dairy cows.” He hopes the cows will provide enough fresh and sour milk for group members who are HIV-positive.

Mr. Munkombwe hopes that although most of the produce is given away, his organization is living up to its objective of supporting the nutritional needs of HIV-positive people in the whole community. He is confident that within the next three years, they will generate surplus produce. This will be sold for cash to help the group build a stronger financial base. They can then diversify their farming activities.

Mr. Munkombwe and his team will commemorate World AIDS Day by giving food packages to its members. They will also take part in the annual march. He hopes that the event will provide a platform to solicit support for the co-operative.

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Malawi: World AIDS Day strengthens small scale-farmers (by Mark Ndipita for Farm Radio Weekly in Malawi)

This year’s World AIDS Day commemoration gives hope and encouragement to Village Headman, Chief Chima Chiwayuka. He says, “My village has farmers who sometimes feel rejected because they are suffering from AIDS. This year’s commemoration rekindles their hope and strengthens them because they are reminded that they are not alone.” Chief Chiwayuka of Chiwayuka village lives 35 kilometres northwest of Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi.

The chief believes that farmers who know their HIV and AIDS status can contribute a lot to household food, nutrition and income security. HIV testing and counselling is available in over 700 sites in Malawi.

To mark this year’s World AIDS Day commemoration, Chief Chiwayuka encourages farmers in his village to go for HIV testing and counseling. He explains, “This year’s World AIDS Day is a day of reckoning and stocktaking on HIV and AIDS issues. Farmers who know their HIV status can plan better in their farming activities.”

Around one million people in Malawi live with HIV, in a population of 14 million. AIDS is the leading cause of death amongst adults in the country. The Malawian government has launched a comprehensive response to the AIDS epidemic in recent years. Access to treatment and prevention initiatives has greatly increased.

Dr. Mary Shawa is the Secretary for Nutrition, HIV and AIDS in the office of the President and Cabinet. She announced that the commemoration will be marked in a different way this year.  District assemblies, institutions and communities, including farmers, will hold community dialogue sessions on human rights, HIV and AIDS. Dr. Shawa says the activities for this year’s commemoration are in line with this year’s theme of Universal Access and Human Rights.

Willie Dick is a small-scale farmer from Jimu village in Nsanje district. He says this year’s commemoration is a source of energy and inspiration to farmers. He believes that farmers will have an opportunity to highlight issues that affect them during the dialogue sessions.

Mr. Dick would like the government to encourage more farmers to participate in World AIDS Day activities. He says, “Farmers have also been affected by HIV and AIDS. This can affect production levels if they are not given more attention.”

Mrs. Lissy Chigalu is a farmer who attended the dialogue session at Paramount Chief Chikowi’s headquarters in Zomba District. Mrs. Chigalu explains that the dialogue session was an eye-opener for most farmers. She says, “Not many discussions in rural communities focus on how HIV-positive people can earn their living and survive through farming. Today I have learned that farmers should not only rely on government-subsidized farm inputs, but should look at other avenues such as manure-making.”

Mrs. Chigalu has been living with HIV since 1997 when she was tested together with her husband at Thondwe voluntary counseling and testing centre. She hails from Dawati village in Zomba District. She says that she would love for dialogue sessions on HIV and AIDS to be held frequently in villages. They would assist farmers to learn many things and share experiences.

Maxmosa Chigamba is a farmer from Chinsungwi village in Nsanje. He compares World AIDS Day to other agriculture-related commemoration days such as World Food Day and the National Agriculture Fair. He says, “I feel government and other stakeholders in the agriculture sector do not involve farmers a lot on World AIDS Day compared to other commemorations. This is an important day to us farmers because we are also affected by HIV and AIDS in one way or the other.”

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Notes to Broadcasters on World AIDS Day

In 1988, the World Health Organization designated December 1 as World AIDS Day. Since then, this is the day when the world remembers people lost to AIDS, takes stock of progress made in halting the disease, and raises awareness to overcome stigma and increase understanding. The theme this year is Universal Access and Human Rights.

For more information on World AIDS Day and global events, refer to these sites:



For basic background information on HIV and AIDS, go to:




This is UNAIDS’ 2010 Global Report, giving the latest global statistics on rates of infection and treatment:


Here you can find detailed information and data for a number of countries in Africa: http://www.avert.org/aids-hiv-africa.htm.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is an international financing institution. It provides funds for many HIV and AIDS-related community projects in Africa. It is mentioned in some of FRW’s stories this week. Visit their site at: http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/.

Broadcasters can check regional news outlets for local stories and events to mark World AIDS Day.

In January 2005, Farm Radio International published a package of scripts that focused on HIV and AIDS and food security. To find these scripts, go to: http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/numerical.asp, and scroll down to Package 73.

Here are more Farm Radio International scripts on HIV and AIDS:

Food is Medicine: HIV/AIDS and Nutrition. Package 65, Script 7, October 2002. http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/65-7script_en.asp

Gender and HIV/AIDS. Package 81, Script 7, August 2007 http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/81-7script_en.asp

HIV/AIDS: Preventing mother-to-child transmission. Package 69, Script 6, December 2003.  http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/69-6script_en.asp

Here are some previous news stories on HIV and AIDS published in Farm Radio Weekly:

Africa: Local food essential for HIV-positive people (Issue 53 January 2009) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/01/26/africa-local-food-essential-for-hiv-positive-people-un-integrated-regional-information-networks/

Uganda: Mulago Positive Women’s Network discovers potential of mushroom cultivation (Issue 57, March 2009)http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/03/02/2-uganda-mulago-positive-women%E2%80%99s-network-discovers-potential-of-mushroom-cultivation-written-by-joshua-kyalimpa-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-kampala-uganda/

Zimbabwe: Renewed interest in traditional food creates opportunities for entrepreneurs and farmers (Issue 121, July 2010) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/07/26/3-zimbabwe-renewed-interest-in-traditional-food-creates-opportunities-for-entrepreneurs-and-farmers-ips/

World AIDS Day may inspire broadcasters to produce programs or hold activities to mark the day. We would love to hear about your events, and will share them in Farm Radio Weekly. Meanwhile, the following section provides advice and ideas on creating programs that deal with HIV and AIDS, and important messages that your programs can pass on:

Program Planning
Involve people living with HIV and AIDS in your broadcasts. Encourage them to tell their stories on the radio. Withhold their identity if they prefer to remain anonymous.
Remember that media itself can stigmatize people living with HIV and AIDS, and try to avoid this pitfall. For example, radio has a responsibility to notify the public that HIV and AIDS is not a punishment for bad behaviour!
Work with health professionals when preparing programs about the health aspects of HIV and AIDS. You need reliable sources in order to disseminate useful broadcasts and to avoid spreading misinformation.
Work with NGOs to amplify their work and yours. In particular, identify and work with traditional theatre and other groups that use effective ways to reach local people. Dramatizations are most effective when they are followed by a discussion or a call-in show.
Get support from upper management. Explain to supervisors that radio programming can save people’s lives, that there has never been a challenge like HIV before, and that no country can afford to ignore it.
Be bold in taking risks and pushing limits. There is a natural shyness when it comes to talking about sexual relations. But it is impossible to deal effectively with HIV and AIDS without discussing sex openly and frankly. You might take a little heat, but remember that what you are doing is saving lives. In too many places, a conspiracy of silence has allowed HIV to infect and kill millions, and impact every aspect of human life.
Involve youth. Youth is one of the hardest groups to reach. No one can communicate with youth better than youth itself. Give young people basic radio production skills and encourage them to develop their own programming. Their programs will be more interesting and attractive to youth.

Involve adults when you develop programs for youth. Form an advisory committee of parents and community leaders, including religious leaders. This will reduce the chances of strong opposition to the programs.

Incorporate messages about HIV and AIDS into programming on other issues. It is important not to address HIV and AIDS in isolation. In some places it is regarded as a taboo subject or people have become numb to HIV and AIDS messages and have stopped listening.
Add a lighter tone now and again. HIV and AIDS don’t have to be full of dread and death. It is possible to communicate about HIV and AIDS in a humourous and attractive way. Sex is generally a topic that attracts attention and can make people laugh. Capturing the laughter and fun in a race to blow up condoms or fill them with water, or getting people to role play a couple on their first date awkwardly discussing the need for protection can associate prevention with fun rather than fear.
Invite faith-based organizations to discuss their beliefs about tolerance and acceptance and how these principles can be applied to people living with HIV and AIDS. Religious leaders have a role to play in helping people make the link between their religious beliefs and the stigmatization of people living with HIV and AIDS. Ask about teachings that include helping those who are less fortunate.
Beware of misinformation about condoms that is purposely circulated by those who oppose condom use. Broadcasters have a responsibility to correct untruths, including claims that condoms don’t prevent HIV transmission or that they spread HIV. Check with health officials if you are not sure if a rumour is truth or fiction.
Appreciate that HIV is not just another health problem. Think of HIV as a national security challenge. It has the potential to affect every aspect of life in a country. Radio broadcasters have a civic responsibility to ensure that radio is used effectively to reduce HIV infection and diminish its impact.

Important Messages
Point out that testing positive for HIV is not a death sentence. After becoming infected, a person can live a perfectly normal life, showing no symptoms for five to ten years and even longer if they get antiretroviral treatment. The earlier the test is done, the easier it will be to keep healthy, and avoid getting re-infected and infecting others.
Don’t waste time and confuse the public by talking about forms of transmission that may be possible but are very rare. Almost all HIV is sexually transmitted. The second largest transmission mode is from an infected mother to her child, and in almost all cases the mother was infected through sexual transmission. In some countries, injection drug users who share needles risk infection. Make sure that sexual transmission gets the attention it should. Most other methods of transmission are possible but are very, very unlikely − such as cuts from sharp metal objects. People worry too much about getting infected by very unlikely means such as casual contact with body fluids or sharing razors, and do not worry enough about unprotected sexual intercourse.
Remind people that it is impossible to tell if a person is infected with HIV by looking at them or by their background. The vast majority of people who are infected don’t know they are infected; they live perfectly normal lives and show no signs or symptoms. They can be from any walk of life, age, economic group or educational level. HIV doesn’t discriminate, since the great majority of people over 15 years old have sex.

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International Nieman Fellowships: Deadline December 15

The Nieman Foundation provides 12 International Fellowships each year for journalists to study at Harvard University in the United States.

Applicants must have at least five years full-time professional experience in the news media. Applicants can be print, broadcast or online reporters, editors, photographers, producers, editorial writers or cartoonists.
Fluency in English is required. When international candidates are invited to be a Nieman fellow, the foundation will work with them to find the money needed to support the study period.
For more information about International Fellowships, send an email to: nieman_applications@harvard.edu.

Applications must be submitted by December 15, 2010.

For more information, visit:


For full details on how to apply, please visit:  http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/NiemanFoundation/NiemanFellowships/HowToApply.aspx.

There is a separate fellowship for South African journalists.

For details about the application and selection process for South African applicants, send an email to Mandy Chinasamy, Nieman Programme Director, at niemansa@iafrica.com.

Calls for applications go out in December, and the deadline for submission is February 1, 2011.

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Two manuals on HIV and AIDS reporting

Telling the HIV Story: A practical manual on HIV prevention

The Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS), supported by the Global Fund, National AIDS Council, and Population Services International, has developed a manual to help media professionals enhance their knowledge and skills in reporting on HIV and AIDS-related issues. The guide is intended for print and broadcast journalists, media owners and practitioners, editors, non-governmental organizations, and students.

It is written in easy-to-read language that allows journalists to understand both the science and the social and cultural features of HIV and AIDS. All sections are introduced with training objectives, purpose, and methodology. Each section is supported by key questions to stimulate group debate, and notes to highlight important issues.

The manual includes the following six sections:
Section 1: Contextualizing HIV
Section 2: Stigma and Discrimination
Section 3: Provider-initiated HIV Counseling
Section 4: Antiretroviral Treatment
Section 5: HIV and TB Co-infection
Section 6: Towards a New Framework of Reporting on HIV

The manual on HIV prevention can be found at: http://www.safaids.net/files/TellingTheHIVStory_reporting_manual.pdf.

Updated manual on HIV and AIDS reporting

The Kaiser Family Foundation has updated its HIV and AIDS reporting manual. The manual covers a broad range of subjects, including the unique challenges of reporting on HIV and AIDS, treatment and prevention strategies and global efforts to finance the campaign against HIV and AIDS. It answers journalists’ questions such as: How can I pitch a story about HIV and AIDS to my editor? How can I find reliable information about HIV and AIDS on the internet? What are the common stereotypes that slip into HIV and AIDS reporting?

You can find the HIV and AIDS reporting manual online: http://www.kff.org/hivaids/upload/7124-05.pdf.

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Latest Farm Radio International script package released: Water Integrity

We are pleased to announce that Farm Radio International’s latest script package on water integrity is now on its way to our broadcasting partners. This package features an issue pack and seven scripts on water integrity. The series of four news stories on water integrity that were published in Farm Radio Weekly in October and November are also included.

You can download the whole script package as a pdf file here: http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/Script%20Package%2092.pdf.

Voices, the newsletter for broadcasters, is available as a pdf file here: http://farmradio.org/english/partners/voices/Voices_92.pdf.

Or all documents can be accessed directly through the Farm Radio International website at:  http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/.

We hope that you use the materials in this package to create interesting, informative, participatory and entertaining radio programs.

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Misconceptions and Acceptance: People Living with HIV/AIDS Need Love and Compassion

Many countries have made progress on increasing access to HIV and AIDS medications and counselling. In some regions, however, people have difficulty acknowledging that HIV and AIDS exist. This short script addresses this issue.

People still discriminate against those living with HIV or AIDS, and many still fear the disease. There are still many misconceptions surrounding the disease – how people are infected, what it means for someone’s life, how it can be managed.  World AIDS Day is a good opportunity to revisit this script and adapt it for use in your programs. Encourage listeners to talk about these issues openly – this is one step towards acceptance.


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