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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 #139

Hello,

We are pleased to extend a warm welcome to this week’s new subscribers: Moîse Keita from Radio Soumpou de barawili in Mali; Claude Lamadokou from Synergie paysanne in Togo; Elvis Romaric Alara from IUCN/Radio Environnement in Cameroon; Teshome Derese from EIAR in Ethiopia; Denis Okello from Radio Palwak in Uganda and Mukeya Liwena from Mungu FM in Zambia.

We’d also like to welcome 25 new subscribers that heard about FRW through the “Atélier régional de ICRISAT” that was recently held in Samanko, Mali.

Good news from Kenya this week, as we hear that the country has been declared rinderpest-free. Livestock keepers have suffered great losses in the past to the disease, and are relieved that rinderpest will no longer trouble their animals.

Zimbabwe’s recent land reform process has been very controversial. In our second story this week, some small-scale farmers tell Farm Radio Weekly how it has affected their lives and livelihoods.

Our third story outlines a new water management arrangement in Rwanda. A private company works with a district government, and involves the community in managing water stations. This arrangement ensures a long-term supply of clean water for all.

Nelly Bassily, Research and Production Officer at Farm Radio International, recently co-facilitated a workshop in Burkina Faso for francophone radio broadcasters. In our Action section below, she describes how a watermelon helped keep participants focused on the task at hand. You can also link to a short video clip from the training (in French).

We are delighted to present a new script, written through our participation in IDRC’s recent symposium, Gendered Terrain: Women’s Rights and Access to Land in Africa. John Cheburet, the winner of Farm Radio International’s 2009 scriptwriting competition, attended the conference along with two other Farm Radio Weekly writers. He wrote a script that describes how Ms. Zipporah Wanyama coped after her husband died and she had to leave her home and land.

Finally, we are taking a two-week publishing break for Christmas and the New Year. We will be back in your inboxes on January 10. We’d like to wish all subscribers happy holidays and a healthy and prosperous 2011!

Many greetings,

-The Farm Radio Weekly team

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In this week’s Farm Radio Weekly:

African Farm News in Review

1. Kenya: Rinderpest is eradicated (by John Cheburet from Farm Radio Weekly in Kenya)

2. Zimbabwe: Farmers express mixed feelings on success of the land reform program (by Zenzele Ndebele for Farm Radio Weekly in Zimbabwe)

3. Rwanda: Maraba primary school students enjoy clean water (by Jean Paul Ntezimana for Farm Radio Weekly in Rwanda)

Upcoming Events

-Soaps and Society: course on making broadcast drama

Radio Resource Bank

-Radio resources for International Migrants Day

Farm Radio Action

-Twenty-one Francophone African broadcasters learn to make radio with a story-based approach and well-focused ideas

Farm Radio Script of the Week

-Women’s right to land is necessary for community development

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Kenya: Rinderpest is eradicated (by John Cheburet from Farm Radio Weekly in Kenya)

Poria Ole Suntai watches over his 70 head of cattle as they graze the lush pasture on his 80 hectare farm in Isinya, Kenya, 50 kilometres south of Nairobi. He is content, knowing that he will never have to face rinderpest again. The disease is known locally as oludwa. It wiped out almost his entire herd in the 1970s.

Kenya was certified as rinderpest free by the World Animal Health Organization on 28 May 2009. More than one year later, on Friday 26th November of this year, pastoralists and scientists met with national and international agencies at Meru National Park to commemorate this extraordinary feat and declare Kenya free of rinderpest.

Two of Mr. Ole Suntai’s cows that received the rinderpest vaccine 10 years ago are still alive. The vaccine has been of great benefit, but pastoralists are relieved that that the highly contagious disease has finally been eradicated. The deadly animal virus has been a major threat to food security and rural development.

Mr. Ole Suntai’s 70 cattle are the sole source of income and sustenance for his big household of four wives and thirty children. He says, “Disease and drought are my biggest worries.  I dread outbreaks because if I lose my animals then there is no way I can take care of my family.”

Rinderpest has also had a huge effect on buffalo, kudu, and giraffe populations in Kenya’s national parks. Meru National Park has suffered particularly serious outbreaks. The last known occurrence of rinderpest in the park was in 2001.

Francis Gakuya is head of veterinary services for the Kenya Wildlife Service. He explains, “Rinderpest had high mortality and morbidity rates and any loss of wildlife affected tourism, which contributes up to 15% of Kenya’s GDP.”  While wildlife diseases affect GDP, pastoralists such as Mr. Ole Suntai care for the largest livestock populations in Kenya. Pastoralists often graze their animals close to or even inside national parks. This factor complicated the fight against rinderpest.

However, a coordinated global effort has now brought rinderpest to the brink of extinction. For Kenya, the goal of global eradication by 2011 has come early. This is probably because Kenya was the heart of field activities, including vaccine development and mass vaccination of livestock and wildlife.

Now that rinderpest has been eradicated from Kenya, the focus will shift to the control and eradication of other livestock diseases. Trypanosomiasis, peste des petits ruminants (PPR), East Coast Fever and Foot and Mouth Disease top the list. These diseases pose a great threat to household economies across the country.

Poria Ole Suntai’s grandchildren will not have to live through a rinderpest epidemic. They will only hear of it, as one of the stories of old told by the family fireplace.

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Zimbabwe: Farmers express mixed feelings on success of the land reform program (by Zenzele Ndebele for Farm Radio Weekly in Zimbabwe)

Forty-year-old Kennedy Ngwenya lives on Leigh Woods Farm, about 50 kilometres north of Bulawayo. He is one of the many farmers who received land through the Zimbabwean government’s resettlement program. But he believes that the government has not been of any help to resettled farmers like him.

Mr. Ngwenya cannot produce enough food for his family. He says, “When we came here about seven years ago, we just told the white farmer that we had taken over his farm. We divided the farm amongst ourselves but we had no capital to start serious farming.”

In February 2000, Zimbabweans rejected government plans to seize white-owned agricultural land for the resettlement of landless blacks. The rejection of the draft constitution set off what became known as the fast track land reform program.

Today, farmers express mixed feelings on the land settlement program. Many resettled farmers in Zimbabwe are struggling to produce enough food for their families. They say the program failed to improve the food situation in the country.

Methuseli Ndlovu is a neighbour of Mr. Ngwenya. He thought the government program was going to support resettled farmers to buy farm inputs. He explains, “Most of us cannot afford farm inputs and we are failing to produce enough to feed our families. We now rely on donor agencies such as World Vision to give us food.” 

Mr. Ndlovu says resettled farmers in his area face many problems. He explains, “Our cattle are dying because of the shortage of water. Our water pump engine is not working and we do not have the money to fix it.”

But not all farmers in Zimbabwe are unhappy with the land resettlement program. Some farmers have benefitted greatly. They say that land resettlement was long overdue.

Jonathan Sibanda is a farmer who lives in the Nyamandlovu resettlement area, 40 kilometres south of Bulawayo. His life changed for the better when he moved to the resettlement area. He says, “I used to live in a crowded village where I could not farm more than a hectare. Most of my cattle died because there was not enough land for grazing, and the nearest dam was five kilometres away.” After resettlement, Mr. Sibanda owns one hectare of land and has more than 30 cattle.

Forty-year-old Mavis Ndlovu (no relation to Mr. Ndlovu) acquired a piece of land through resettlement. Her husband died a few years ago, and having this land has helped her family. She says, “I am doing different projects to feed my family using this land. I grow maize, groundnuts and beans. I also run a poultry project. Through this land I am able to send my children to school.” 

Davison Masendeke is a regional agronomist in Matabeleland. He says the objective of the land reform was to empower the indigenous people. He is not sure this was achieved. He believes it caused the displacement of highly productive white commercial farmers and had negative impacts on food security. He explains, “It was a very noble idea, but those that were undeserving got land and never used it productively.”

Adolf Dube is the Chief Livestock Production and Development Officer and lives in the north of Matabeleland. Mr. Dube says the land reform did not benefit most of those who were allocated land. He says, “To a large extent, the land reform only benefited most town dwellers that were homeless because they were given shelter to reside. It did not benefit people in terms of empowerment.”

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Rwanda: Maraba primary school students enjoy clean water (by Jean Paul Ntezimana for Farm Radio Weekly in Rwanda)

Jean Damascene Hakizimana comes out of his class wearing short khaki trousers and a blue light pullover, with a five-litre container in his right hand. He walks less than a hundred metres, then collects water to fight the dust in his classroom.

Hakizimana says, “Before they brought us this water, we used to go to the bottom of that nearest hill for water.” He explains that it used to take them an hour to walk there and back.

Jean Damascene Hakizimana is a pupil at the primary school in Maraba, Huye district, southern Rwanda. He can now bring water to the school three times a day without walking far. When Hakizimana and his friends get water from the new water station, they spend some of their time playing.

But they remember what it was like before this project. They had to make the long journey, then wait in line at the public tap. Many people from nearby villages and schools used the same tap.

Alexis Gatete works at Maraba School as a cook. He also manages the school’s water station. Villagers chose him for this job. He supervises students as they take water from the station. Each water station has designated opening hours.

Mr. Gatete says, “This water project has facilitated our job. Before this year, it was not easy to cook for these children.” He explains that the students would take a long time to fetch water. The water they brought him was dirty. “This was delaying my job in the kitchen. That affected their afternoon class.”

The district pays for the school’s water station to be managed by Mr. Gatete; the school does not pay. This water station is just for the school, and is not open for everyone to use. 

Alongside his job as a cook, Mr. Gatete works for a private company that manages the water station. The company was chosen to distribute water. The water use arrangement is new to this area.

According to Huye district officials, this is the arrangement which was adopted in collaboration with local people. A private company now manages the public water stations. The company is required to employ a local resident chosen by villagers. The resident supervises access to the water station. Schools and community centres pay by cubic metre. Water is sold to individuals at 10 Rwandan Francs (about one and a half American cents) for 20 litres.

District officials supervise project activities. They check to see how the private company works with the villagers. They make sure the company uses a local resident chosen by villagers to manage the station. The district also supervises the price charged for water, and checks hygiene around the water station.

Jean Marie Munyanziza is a technician in charge of infrastructure in Huye District. He says, “The little money that villagers pay will help to rehabilitate infrastructure when it is needed.” He explains that this system was designed after a similar project failed. The previous water project was left in villagers’ hands. It lasted only a few years.

The advantage of using a private company is that the company manages the water station, protects it and repairs it when needed. Public infrastructure, such as the water station, is often destroyed or falls into disrepair. The former project failed because no one was responsible and there was little follow-up. So the government decided to work with private companies to manage and maintain these kinds of infrastructure projects. Now, Hakizimana and his friends have good access to clean water.

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Notes to broadcasters on rinderpest eradication

Rinderpest is an often fatal viral disease of domestic cattle. It also affects sheep, goats, some breeds of pigs and a large variety of wildlife species. Scientists have been working for decades to develop vaccines. As these became available, the next goal was to eradicate rinderpest globally. Many countries are now rinderpest-free. In mid-2011, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organisation for Animal Health are expected to jointly declare  that rinderpest has indeed been eradicated worldwide.    

For more information about the global initiative to eradicate rinderpest, and basic information about rinderpest and its history, go to: http://www.iah.ac.uk/disease/rinderpest1.shtml.

Here, you can access a factsheet on rinderpest from the World Organisation for Animal Health:  http://www.oie.int/Eng/ressources/RINDERPEST-EN.pdf.

You can also read more about this story at these links:

http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/46383/icode/

http://www.organicfarmermagazine.org/rinderpest-is-kicked-out-of-kenya/

Farm Radio International has produced many scripts on livestock. Here are two which cover various cattle health issues:

How to prevent and treat parasitic roundworms in cattle: advice from a veterinarian and a herder. Package 88, Script 2, July 2009. http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/88-2script_en.asp

 “Spray me, I’m itchy”: What moo really means. Package 88, Script 4, July 2009. http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/88-4script_en.asp

Here, you can refer to  recent Farm Radio Weekly news stories about cattle:

West Africa: Livestock routes reduce pastoralist-farmer conflict (Issue 96, January 2010). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/01/25/1-west-africa-livestock-routes-reduce-pastoralist-farmer-conflict-irin-daily-trust-daily-observer/

East Africa: East Coast Fever vaccine registered in three East African countries (Issue 114, June 2010).

http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/06/07/1-east-africa-east-coast-fever-vaccine-registered-in-three-east-african-countries-by-sawa-pius-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-tanzania/programs

Rwanda: Local cattle breeds still preferred (Issue 54, February 2009).

http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/02/02/rwanda-local-cattle-breeds-still-preferred-syfia-grands-lacs/

Ethiopia: Dairy co-ops turn extra milk into profit (Issue 74, July 2009).

http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/07/20/1-ethiopia-dairy-co-ops-turn-extra-milk-into-profit-leisa/

As cattle are so important to farmers’ livelihoods, the topic of cattle health always makes for an interesting and useful radio program. You could plan a program which shares farmers’ experiences and tips on how they deal with sick or injured animals. You could look for farmers who raise cattle and interview them for a call-in program. Ask how they deal with common illnesses, what preventative measures they take to keep their animals healthy, how they know when to call in a vet, and the social and cultural value of their animals. Ask other farmers to call- or text- in with reactions and further suggestions.

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Notes to broadcasters on land reform in Zimbabwe

Land reform is a hot political issue in Zimbabwe. The government’s land distribution program is controversial; public opinion is divided. There were two distinct periods of reform: from 1979-2000, the principle of “willing buyer, willing seller” was applied, with economic help from Great Britain. The “fast-track land reform” began in 2000. Many press outlets referred to this process as “farm invasions,” when black Zimbabweans occupied land previously worked by white farmers.

More discussions and articles on land reform and politics in Zimbabwe can be accessed here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/africa/2000/zimbabwe/default.stm

http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/Tenth-Anniversary-of-Zimbabwes-Controversial-Land-Reform-Program-84497672.html

In November of this year, a study was released which suggests that there were positive aspects of land reform which have gone largely unacknowledged:

http://www.ids.ac.uk/go/news/zimbabwe-s-land-reform-ten-years-on-new-study-dispels-the-myths.

Reaction to and discussion of this study can be found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-11764004.

For more on land issues, see this week’s script of the week, where we present a new script on women and land rights in Kenya.

Farm Radio Weekly has published other stories related to land reform and land rights, including:

Kenya: Indigenous people will return to traditional home following landmark ruling (Issue 99, February 2010). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/02/15/1-kenya-indigenous-people-will-return-to-traditional-home-following-landmark-ruling-centre-for-minority-rights-development-witness-catholic-information-service-for-africa/

Southern Africa: Farm workers become farm owners (Issue 69, June 2009). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/06/08/3-southern-africa-farm-workers-become-farm-owners-inter-press-service-the-namibian/

East Africa: Farmers concerned about land grabs urge leaders to promote food sovereignty at climate change talks (Issue 91, December 2009). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/12/07/1-east-africa-farmers-concerned-about-land-grabs-urge-leaders-to-promote-food-sovereignty-at-climate-change-talks-the-globe-and-mail-jeune-afrique-daily-monitor/

Each country has national and traditional laws regarding ownership and rights to land. Difficulties with access to land, and with secure title, affects farmers’ livelihoods in similar ways. For example, farmers are reluctant to invest time and money in their farms if they feel the land or its products may be taken from them at any time. This may cause stagnation of local economies and communities.

You might like to research land issues in your community and consider to what extent this is happening locally. Contact local organizations and try to find farmers who have faced similar issues. What difference would it make to farmers’ lives if they had land ownership documents? What effect would this have on the wider community? Can women in the community own land in their own name? Is it difficult to establish land ownership and get secure title? Is legal advice or financial support available?

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Notes to broadcasters on access to clean water

Access to clean water is one of the foundations of all development. Without clean water, poverty is common, if not inevitable. Clean water enables communities to stay healthy, grow food, build housing, go to school or continue to work. 

On these pages you can find global statistics, facts and further links on access to water and related topics:

http://www.wateraid.org/international/what_we_do/statistics/default.asp

http://www.watercan.com/PDF/Factsheet%20on%20Water%20and%20Sanitation%202008.pdf

http://www.unwater.org/mediaresources.html

Farm Radio International’s many scripts on water include:

Catch rain from your roof. Package 89, Script 6, December 2009. http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/89-6script_en.asp

Local water committee helps villagers, but especially women and children. Package 86, Script 1, December 2008. http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/86-1script_en.asp

Clean water and a clean environment make a better life. Package 86, Script 5, December 2008. http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/86-5script_en.asp

A decade of success: community-owned project brings tapped water to village in western Kenya. Package 86, Script 8, December 2008. http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/86-8script_en.asp

You can browse our latest script package on water integrity here: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/water.asp.

Here are two recent stories from Farm Radio Weekly about access to water:

East Africa: Countries negotiate for their fair share of Nile water http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/06/07/3-east-africa-countries-negotiate-for-their-fair-share-of-nile-water-allafrica-irin/

Kenya: Rainwater harvesting improves rural livelihoods http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/03/17/1-kenya-rainwater-harvesting-improves-rural-livelihoods-various-sources/

Water is a broad topic, with lots of opportunities to choose an issue that is relevant to your listeners. Think about a specific topic related to water that is relevant in your community. It could be the lack of maintenance at public water points, or recurring floods, or the lack of sanitation in local schools. Ask the people affected about the difficulties they face, and how they have tried to resolve the problems. Have they been able to get any help or advice? What long-term effects are likely if the issue is not resolved? Do any communities have stories of how they overcame difficulties? Can individuals make a difference, or is collective effort required?

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Soaps and Society: course on making broadcast drama

The Radio Netherlands Training Centre (RNTC) is offering a 12 week course on producing serial dramas for broadcast. The course is aimed at mid-career writers and program-makers, and will increase their capacity to write and produce broadcast serial dramas which help raise awareness and change attitudes on key development issues which affect their societies.

“Soaps,” or long-running serial dramas, can educate and engage an audience, and help change attitudes. Some of the problems facing societies around the world today require this change of attitude and behaviour − health and environmental issues are good examples. 

The course will cover radio and television broadcast; participants will “learn by doing.” They will be taught how to develop story lines. Participants will meet program-makers and scriptwriters who have used drama to explore key issues and promote attitude change.

Applicants need:

-at least three years work experience in the media;

-an employer who supports participation;

– secondary education and professional education or training in media;

-experience in working with computers; and

-sufficient speaking and writing skills in English (the course language).

A number of fellowships are available to help cover costs. You can apply for fellowships online until 1st February 2011. Applications must reach RNTC by 1st January 2011.For more details and the full application procedure, visit: http://www.rntc.nl/node/13.

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Radio resources for International Migrants Day

Radio 1812 invites broadcasters around the world to get involved in a global audio event organized to mark International Migrants Day.

Radio 1812 is an initiative by December 18, the International Advocacy and Resource Centre on the Human Rights of Migrant Workers. It is a global event that will bring together migrant groups and radio stations from around the world to produce, broadcast and share programs that celebrate the achievements and highlight the concerns of migrants.

Broadcasters are invited to upload and share programs they have produced on the theme of migrants. Or you can download a program from the Radio 1812 website and rebroadcast it on your station. Jingles in five languages can also be downloaded for this year’s event.

The organizers request that you mention International Migrants Day and Radio 1812 if you use any material from the site. You can also let them know at radio1812@december18.net, so they can keep track of how the materials are used. 

Start browsing the site here: http://www.radio1812.net/radios-get-involved.

The list of files for download is here: http://www.radio1812.net/audio-archive-2010

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Twenty-one Francophone African broadcasters learn to make radio with a story-based approach and well-focused ideas

Jeanne Tchakoute is wearing a beautiful pink suit. Full of energy, she gets up to dance and sing. She bends forward while pretending to wipe sweat from her forehead. She is simulating a dance done by women farmers, demonstrating how they suffer to transport their crops to town. Jeanne is a journalist at Radio FM 100 Medumba in Cameroon. She was one of 21 participants who attended a workshop on creating and evaluating scripts and programs for radio audiences in rural Africa.

With the help and vast experience of trainer Sylvain Desjardins, senior journalist with Radio-Canada, the workshop was held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, from November 29th to December 3rd. Farm Radio International collaborated with Jade Productions and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation to offer this five-day workshop. Nelly Bassily, Research and Production Officer at Farm Radio International, helped co-facilitate the workshop. She describes the highlights.

The scene: Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The “Pays des Hommes Intègres” (country of men of integrity) is jaded by the re-election of President Blaise Compaoré, but completely absorbed by the presidential fight in neighbouring Ivory Coast. The Hotel Ran Somketa in downtown Ouagadougou is the setting for fruitful exchanges among broadcasters from Burkina Faso, of course, but also broadcasters from Benin, Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Mali, Niger, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Chad and Togo.

Each morning begins with a little song, a joke or an anecdote, an initiative of one of our broadcasters. Félix Houinsou from Radio Immaculée Conception in Benin kicks things off. Clapping his hands, he sings: “There are things like this that annoy me often! These are things … that annoy me!” And presto, here we go.

The participants begin by discussing agricultural topics of importance to their listeners. For example, the decrease in watermelon production is one of the topics presented by Adama Tessouké, radio host at Radio Sikidolo in Mali.

Frequently returning to the watermelon example, Sylvain Desjardins helps participants to demystify the concept of the focus statement. A focus statement describes someone who does something for a particular reason. Sylvain explains that a good focus statement helps journalists develop a clear story that includes a main character, actions and a very specific purpose.

To illustrate the concept of the focus statement, which has both amused and raised the eyebrows of our dear participants, Adama presents Sylvain with a watermelon (yes, a real one!) as a reminder that we must never lose sight of the focus statement.

Sylvain makes our dear participants laugh by having them listen to excerpts of stories and interviews. Modeste Shabani is with Radio Sauti Ya Mkaaji in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He grins from ear to ear while listening to the story of Faustin. In the audio clip, Faustin is a taxi driver in Kinshasa who recounts that the glove box of his car always pops open on his customers’ legs because petty thieves have repeatedly forced it open. (Click here to view a video of the participants listening to the story of Faustin. This video is in French.) The story is proof that good interviews based on a simple tale can help illustrate a larger societal issue.

Then we move on to mock interviews. Jeanne Tchakouté plays the role of the journalist who does not ask the right questions, and Jean Paul Ntezimana, from Radio Salus in Rwanda, is the interviewed farmer who gives vague, meandering responses. Lesson learned: a journalist should be well-prepared and ask specific questions in order to remain in control during an interview.

After these scenes, the participants move out of the classroom, recorder in hand and headphones on their ears, for an exercise in recording sound. They capture roaring motorcycle engines, boisterous mobile phone salespersons on the Avenue de la Nation and the tinkling of empty soft drink bottles. The always smiling Victorine Zongo, from Radio Savane FM in Burkina Faso, says she is willing to do anything to get the sounds she needs.

After reviewing the focus statement, the story-based approach, and the interview, it is now time to put theory into practice. The participants travel to the village of Moutti to conduct interviews with small farmers on regional agricultural issues. Once the interviews and sounds are recorded, they return to Ouagadougou to piece together five-minute mini-documentaries. They have only two afternoons to complete the editing, and time is flying by. A team composed of Alexis Mouliom, from Radio Communautaire du Noun in Cameroon, Jean Paul and Victorine, presents a radio piece about farmers having a hard time selling agricultural products such as onions and tomatoes in Moutti. (Click here to listen to the radio piece produced by Alexis, Jean-Paul and Victorine. This audio clip is in French.)

We come to the end of the training. All the audio pieces have been heard and discussed. Certificates are awarded. The participants say their goodbyes while constantly asking each other what their focus statement is. They are completely absorbed with the idea of someone doing something for a reason. Everyone returns home, ready to prepare their own mini-documentary.

What a training! I would like to thank the participants for their boundless energy and humour. I would also like to thank everyone who made this workshop possible: Tara Blanche Lazimana, called “Miss White”; Adama Zongo, Jade Productions trainer; Sylvain Desjardins, renamed “Deschamps” during the workshop; Souleymane Ouattara, director of Jade Productions, and Samuel Mikenga of CTA. From the heart … a big thank you!

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Women’s right to land is necessary for community development

Notes to broadcaster

Food security at the national level cannot be achieved unless it is realized at the household level. Across Africa, women provide the bulk of labour on farms. But they have little say on how land is used, and this affects food production in a big way.

In September 2010, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) hosted an international conference on women’s access to land in Nairobi. This script is based on a case shared in the conference. It highlights the successes women have achieved in the fight for their rights to land and property in Kenya. The script also recognizes the role of grassroots-led women’s organizations in community development. The efforts of these organizations are rarely highlighted. Usually, when people talk about who contributes to development, they look at what government has done and what donors are doing. But the work of grassroots women is not mentioned.

The script also addresses gender inequality in land allocation, decision-making within the extended family, the place of women and children in land disputes, and the role of local government in protecting women and children from discrimination. You can adapt this script to your local situation by interviewing a local expert on food security and land rights or by profiling a successful case study in your area. Please keep in mind that this script talks about the situation in Kenya. Laws and customs around women and land rights vary from one African country to another. So, before producing a program on this topic, you will need to do some local research to identify the situation in your area.

This script is based on actual interviews. You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on a similar topic in your area. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.

Signature tune (10 seconds), then down under presenter

Presenter: Hello dear listener, and welcome to the program. This week we look at women’s property rights, and particularly at how discrimination in land ownership affects household food security and overall community development. We hear the story of a mother and her four children who are forced out of their home after the death of their husband and father. Stay with us.

Fade up signature tune then down and out

Presenter: Let me welcome Ms. Zipporah Wanyama who has come to the studio to share her story of hope. Zipporah comes from Shibuye village in Kakamega East district, Western Kenya. You told me you were ejected from your home. What happened?

Zipporah: Thank you for inviting me on this program. My husband died about one year ago after a short illness. After we buried him, his brothers moved into my house. They told me that now that their brother was dead, I had no right to continue staying in the compound. They took away chairs and seats and other property from the house.

My husband was a primary school teacher. His brothers claimed his benefits from the Teachers Service Commission without even informing me that they had any plans to do so. By the time I realized it, the money had been paid to them. My husband owned two hectares of land which was registered under his name. I was denied this land because my children were girls.

Presenter: How did all this affect you?

Zipporah: I was really disturbed, and not just because of the actions of my husband’s family. Also, the people in my community who I thought would stand with me during this trying time while I was mourning my husband were silent while my extended family was persecuting me. I couldn’t eat or sleep much. I lost weight and I could not even care for my children. Another thing, my relationship with my husband’s family was not good. I didn’t know what they thought about me and my children. In my mind, I thought they supported the kind of treatment I received. So I went back to my parents’ home.

Presenter: What happened to the children?

Zipporah: I took them with me. There was no way I could leave them behind. They had already missed school for one month and they could not learn on empty stomachs. We had no food. My in-laws refused my request to grow maize on the family farm.

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Presenter: Violet Shivutse is a member of GROOTS, a national movement of women-led grassroots organizations in Kenya. Welcome to the program, Mrs. Shivutse. Start by telling us why your organization intervened in Zipporah’s case.

Mrs. Shivutse: Thank you. We were working as caregivers for people living with HIV and AIDS in Kakamega, Gatundu, Kendu Bay and other areas of Kenya where HIV prevalence was high. We realized that many women like Zipporah were not only suffering from HIV and AIDS, but that they had another problem. Whenever these women lost their spouses, they were chased away from homes and not allowed to inherit the property of their husbands.

Presenter: Zipporah had been prevented by her in-laws from inheriting the property of her husband. What reasons were given for this?

Mrs. Shivutse: There was no special reason. In most communities, when a husband dies, the woman is occupied with mourning and burial preparations. Burial requirements like permits are usually taken care of by the brothers-in-law. They also help the widow to get the necessary documents for succession, which recognize her relationship with her husband and certify that the land is legally hers. Unfortunately, they keep these documents instead of giving them to the widow.

For example, in my community it is mandatory that the widow mourns for 40 days and goes through a cleansing ceremony. While the woman is still mourning in the home, the brother-in-law gets the death certificate and proceeds to claim any benefits.

Presenter: Is it easy to acquire these documents?

Mrs. Shivutse: The provincial administration was also to blame in this. They were giving the documents to anybody who claimed them. Corruption is also a major factor here. The person seeking the letter of succession would get it if he or she handed over some money.

In some other cases, the woman may have no children or may have girl children only, who are not able to own land in the community.

Presenter: What action did you take in this specific situation?

Mrs. Shivutse: When we told GROOTS Kenya about the situation of this lady and many other women, they helped us to carry out an in-depth mapping exercise. This helped us to understand the issues that surround property inheritance, the response of various institutions, and the attitude of the community to these issues.

With our findings, we convened a community feedback meeting to which we invited the chief, district officer and district commissioner. Zipporah gave a testimony in this meeting. She looked frail. No one could believe that she was the wife of the late teacher who everyone in the community knew was well-off.

Presenter: What came out of this meeting?

Mrs. Shivutse: The community resolved to form community land and property watchdog groups. These groups monitor how the provincial administration and land tribunal respond to cases of inheritance involving women. In this way, these institutions are held accountable. We invited the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Provincial Administration to one of these meetings and he helped us lay out a working strategy for the community watchdog groups. One of our strategies is to hold forums during which community members are informed of existing property and land rights. They are also told about harmful cultural beliefs that make women suffer.

Presenter: What does the law say concerning inheritance of land and property for women and children?

Mrs. Shivutse: In theory, both statutory and customary law recognizes the rights of a widow, as a dependent, to continue using land after her husband dies for as long as she lives. However, in an ever-growing number of cases, people no longer respect these rights. And the institutions responsible for enforcing them – such as chiefs and elders – are either unable or unwilling to do so.

Presenter: So how was Zipporah protected?

Mrs. Shivutse: Our intervention came a little bit late, but all was not lost. The money from the Teachers Service Commission was already squandered. But she managed to get back her land, house and household goods. She has since moved back to her home.

Presenter: These efforts bore fruit and Zipporah Wanyama and her children are happy to be back to the place they once called home. It has been six months since they moved back to their home and already a lush crop of beans has flowered. In a month’s time, this family will once again enjoy a good meal from their land.

Zipporah, what can we learn from your situation?

Zipporah: That women have legal rights to inherit property in Kenya. Many women were able to learn from my situation. Already, a number of my friends have joint title deeds with their husbands. The community came to know that the law protects women and children when the husband and father dies. Though I was not able to recover everything my husband owned, I’m happy that the children and I have the land and house, which is good social security.

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Presenter: There are many things that stand out about Zipporah’s experience. First of all, that discrimination against women can be successfully dealt with. Through community education, consultation, and raising awareness, negative attitudes about women can be discarded and women can claim their rightful place in the family and community. The success of grassroots women’s organizations like GROOTS Kenya tells us that women are equal partners in development, not just passive beneficiaries of development.

That is all we have time for in today’s program. Until next week, same time, I’m your presenter ….………………… Bye bye.

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Acknowledgements

Contributed by: John Cheburet, Producer, TOFRadio, Nairobi, Kenya.

Reviewed by: Eileen Alma, Program Officer, Women’s Rights and Citizenship,
International Development Research Centre (IDRC)

Information sources

GROOTS Kenya: http://www.groots.org/

IDRC, Gendered Terrain: Women Rights and Access to Land in Africa – Conference Presentations, at http://www.idrc.ca/en/ev-158124-201-1-DO_TOPIC.html

Program undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)

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