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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 #264

Winds of change

The Farm Radio Weekly team wishes you a very warm welcome. In issue #264, we feature a story from Madagascar, and a report of violence against a journalist in Congo-Brazzaville.

Our story from Madagascar highlights the efforts of farmers and fisherfolk to rebuild their lives and livelihoods after the damage caused by Cyclone Haruna and the locust plague that followed it.

From Congo-Brazzaville comes news that a journalist was beaten by police after conducting filming for a report she was making on a court case.

Farm Radio International is looking for three ICT experts to join our team in Arusha, Tanzania. To learn more about the opportunity of a lifetime to spend four months working with our ICT program in East Africa, visit: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/2013/10/10/the-hangar-call-for-developers/

We wish you all a very good week. Until next time:

Keep broadcasting!

-the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Madagascar: Farmers and fisherfolk try to rebuild after cyclone (IRIN)

Cyclone Haruna devastated parts of Madagascar in February, 2013. Farmers and fisherfolk who live in coastal areas were badly affected. It may take many years to rebuild their lives. Their first priority is finding food for their families.

Mrs. Faravavy is a 32-year-old mother of three who farms a plot of arid land in southern Madagascar. Agriculture is her family’s only means of survival. She grows maize, red beans and cassava, but admits she is now unable to grow enough to feed her family year-round.

She says: “Our fields were flooded in February when Cyclone Haruna came. Since then, there has been no more rain. We used to harvest 15 carts full of [cassava]. This year, we barely filled up one.”

Mrs. Faravavy’s family, like many others, is suffering from a combination of rapidly changing weather patterns, the cyclone, and a recent locust plague. She now forages in a nearby forest for alternative sources of food.

Mrs. Faravavy remembers that when she was a child, her village was next to the forest. But as trees have been continually felled over the years, she’s had to walk farther and farther to reach it. Recently, Mrs. Faravavy has had to take her smallest children to the forest, where they dig up roots to supplement the family’s diet.

She remembers, “When I was small, we lived better than my kids do now. There was rain and always enough to eat.”

A recent report by the United Nations’ World Food Program and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization states that rice and maize harvests in Madagascar have been ruined this year. The report says that four million people in rural Madagascar face food insecurity. Almost ten million more are at risk.

Madagascar’s annual cyclone season hits last from November to March. It is estimated that 60 per cent of Indian Ocean storms affect the island nation. But a lack of preparedness continues to wreak havoc on small-scale farmers and fisherfolk. It’s often difficult to rebuild their lives before the next cyclone hits.

Along the west coast of Madagascar, fishermen are still reeling from the effects of the cyclone. Thirty-nine-year-old Melau Feaucre Johanison says, “I lost all my tools, including the nets and boat.”

Many families were displaced by the flooding caused by the heavy rains which accompanied Cyclone Haruna. Coastal areas were drenched for several days before the cyclone made landfall. An estimated 50,000 island dwellers were made homeless, and were unable to return to their homes until three months after the storm. They are beginning anew, but with the knowledge that the next cyclone season is nearly upon them.

Mr. Johanison is saving to buy new fishing equipment. In the meantime, he is borrowing so he can provide for his wife and six children.

He says, “It’s very hard, as most of the money we earn goes towards feeding the family. A new [dug-out canoe] costs up to 100,000 ariary ($44 US), and that is without the sail.” At their current rate of saving, Mr. Johanison estimates it will take two or three years before the family’s livelihood returns to pre-storm levels.

But it is not just farmers and fisherfolk whose livelihoods have been devastated. Vance Leonce is a 61-year-old mother of eight who used to earn a living collecting algae and oysters. But Cyclone Haruna stripped the oyster beds. She says, “I can’t say when I will be able to get back to the life I had before. There is nothing in the sea anymore.”

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Notes to broadcasters: Natural disasters

Natural disasters include floods, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other events not directly caused by humankind. A natural disaster can result in loss of life and property damage, and typically leaves some economic damage in its wake. The severity of damage depends in part on the affected population’s resilience, or ability to recover. You can read more on the subject here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_disaster

The increase in frequency and severity of some natural disasters, including flooding and low-pressure wind systems (hurricanes, cyclones, typhoons and tornados) has been linked to global climate change.

In its annual World Disasters Report, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies charts the revolutionary impact of technology on humanitarian aid, and also explores the barriers to its adoption. You can read about the report in Poor suffer digital deficit in disasters – Red Cross at this address: http://www.trust.org/item/20131017033543-8pi6y (TRUST, October 2013), or download the full report, World Disasters Report: Focus on technology and the future of humanitarian action, via this link:  http://worlddisastersreport.org/en/

Farm Radio Weekly has covered natural disasters before. This story from issue #41 (October 2008) talks about the floods which affected farmers in Mozambique that year. You can read it at: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/10/27/3-mozambique-preparing-for-natural-disasters-un-integrated-regional-information-networks/

The Notes to broadcasters from issue #216 (September 2012) offer ideas for radio stations which broadcast to regions where disasters are prevalent. The Notes suggest the kinds of roles stations can play to reduce the impact of future storms, floods and plagues on their listening communities: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/09/10/notes-to-broadcasters-on-natural-disasters/

Keeping listeners abreast of the weather is an important function of any radio station. A recent story from Cameroon can be found here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/02/11/cameroon-community-radio-helps-farmers-and-fishers-cope-with-climate-change-and-extreme-weather-alertnet/, along with Notes to broadcasters: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/02/11/notes-to-broadcasters-on-climate-and-weather-programs/

Natural disasters affect most of the African continent. Statistics on climate change and its effect on disasters in Africa can be found here: http://www.grida.no/publications/vg/africa/. If you broadcast to a region which is prone to natural disasters, you may want to consider what role your station can play.

Farm Radio Weekly issue #74 (July 2009) offers ideas for radio programs on how rural listeners might prevent, prepare for, or recover from a natural disaster. You can read it through this address: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/07/20/disaster-prevention-mitigation-and-recovery-story-ideas-for-the-radio/

Farm Radio Resource Pack # 64: Radio: A Tool for Disaster Prevention and Recovery (July 2002) has several scripts which may be of use in preparing programs for such circumstances. It is available through this link: http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-64-radioa-tool-for-disaster-prevention-and-recovery/

When local people are informed that a natural disaster is coming, they can take action to protect their families. Radio can be an invaluable tool, sharing information to help people prepare for a disaster and notifying people when a disaster is imminent. Here are some more ideas to increase your effectiveness in broadcasting information on disaster preparedness:

-Tell your audience about the importance of food security and farmers, especially in times of natural disaster. Promote the crucial role of farmers in coping with disaster, and give farmers the respect they deserve.
-Develop programs that shift people’s preferences away from imported food, especially during times of disaster, or during seasons when disasters often strike. Use programs to promote and stimulate demand for locally-grown food.
-Establish rural phone “hot lines” before and during disasters. Use the hot lines as part of live call-in/text-in programs.
-Ask popular artists and singers to lend their names to radio campaigns about disaster preparedness and mitigation. Invite the artists to appear and be interviewed on your programs.
-Highlight the cost of disasters to farmers and agricultural production as well as to the country as a whole. Invite representatives from NGOs and government (for example, the Ministries of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries) to participate in informing the public.

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Notes to broadcasters: Press freedom

Article 19 of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Upholding and negotiating freedom of the press is a constant struggle for radio journalists in Africa. Many radio journalists have been attacked during conflicts or simply while doing their job.

The original article on which this story was based can be found at this address: http://africa.ifj.org/fr/articles/la-fij-sinquiete-de-la-securite-dune-journaliste-agressee-au-congo-brazzaville

Reporters Without Borders produces reports on the state of press freedom. Their report for Congo-Brazzaville can be found here: http://en.rsf.org/report-congo,12.html http://fr.rsf.org/congo-congo-05-01-2010,35662.html

The Reporters Without Borders website, which carries many stories about injustices committed against journalists across Africa, is available through this link: http://en.rsf.org/africa,1.html

A radio article with a statement from Rob Mahoney of the Committee to Protect Journalists (http://www.cpj.org/) is downloadable via: http://www.unmultimedia.org/radio/english/2013/02/seventy-journalists-killed-in-2012-cpj/index.html

The Freedom of Expression Toolkit is UNESCO’s contribution to the issue. It is written with upper high school students in mind. The Toolkit covers major concepts and issues and is written in an easy-to-understand, conversational manner. It can be found here: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/resources/publications-and-communication-materials/publications/full-list/freedom-of-expression-toolkit/

Notes to broadcasters on World Press Freedom Day were published in Farm Radio Weekly issue #244 (April 2013). They are available here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/04/29/notes-to-broadcasters-world-press-freedom-day/

Further Notes to broadcasters on media and press freedom are available here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/06/10/notes-to-broadcasters-media-and-press-freedom/ (FRW #249, June 2013)

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FRW news in brief

Farm Radio Weekly has a new trial resource for you: Farmer news briefs. These are stories from across the continent which have been adapted from print or online sources and are suitable for use in your regular farm radio program. Read them, edit them, broadcast them, localize them, or simply use them as background info. Want more details? Click the link under the story to see the original article.

Please let us know what you think. Do you want to see Farmer news briefs in Farm Radio Weekly on a regular basis? Email us at farmradioweekly@farmradio.org

1- Tanzania allows Maasai herders to stay in disputed wildlife corridor

The Tanzanian government has abandoned plans to prevent Maasai pastoralists from grazing their cattle in northern Loliondo ward. The disputed land had been set aside for a conservation area.

The Loliondo region has been in dispute since 1992, when the Tanzanian government decided to develop the tourism potential of the area. It was designated a “Game Controlled Area” and subsequently leased to a Dubai-based company which runs hunting safaris.

Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda travelled to Loliondo to make the announcement, amid jubilation from thousands of herders who had gathered to hear him. He said, “I can now agree with the people that taking that land would affect their livelihoods and that is not in the best interests of the government.” He also noted that, “… the Maasai pastoralists who have inhabited the area since time immemorial are good conservationists themselves, thus can still take good care of the area.”

Onesmo Olegurumwa is the national coordinator of the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition. He said in a statement, “We would like to urge local people in Loliondo to ensure that the government decision through the Prime Minister is put in writing for future reference.”

Read the full story at: http://www.trust.org/item/20131002155551-7mzy5/; or in Swahili: http://www.trust.org/item/20131002155551-7mzy5/?lang=4

2- Illegal land sales driving rural vulnerability in Zimbabwe

Drying pastureland in central Zimbabwe is not the only problem that small-scale farmers face. Villagers say that headmen and chiefs in the district are selling land for personal profit. This has reduced space to plant crops, particularly the green vegetables and tomatoes that provide extra income to local families.

According to the IRIN news agency, one headman said the illegal sale of communal land has transformed his family’s life. He said: “I know that there are villagers who have been complaining to the chief … but I don’t care. I am benefiting from the powers that I was given as a headman.”

But Ignatius Chombo, a local government minister, said that traditional leaders do not have the power to sell land to private individuals. He said, “It is illegal for them to sell it, so they risk being prosecuted. Those that buy the land are also doing it illegally.”

Read the full story at: http://www.irinnews.org/report/98899/illegal-land-sales-driving-rural-vulnerability-in-zimbabwe

3- Concerns about pastoralist livelihoods as Kenya kicks off regional infrastructure project

A huge transport infrastructure project is being planned to link Kenya’s coast, Juba in South Sudan, and Ethiopia by 2030. But questions are being raised about the potential impact on pastoralists.

The 200-metre wide Lamu Port and Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor, or LAPPSET, is expected to eventually form part of an equatorial land bridge linking eastern and western Africa,  from Juba via Bangui in the Central African Republic to Douala, Cameroon.

Many communities along the proposed route are worried about land grabs and disruptions to livelihoods when the project reaches them. According to Abdikadir Omar, the Member of Parliament for Balambala in east-central Kenya, there are potential adverse effects on pastoral livelihoods if migratory routes are blocked.

Mr. Omar said, “There is a need to address [these] problems from a host community point of view, before a camel and a bulldozer are facing each other.”

Read the full story at: http://www.irinnews.org/report/98908/livelihood-concerns-as-kenya-kicks-off-regional-infrastructure-project

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Call for applications: Human Rights Advocates Program

The Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR) is accepting applications for its Human Rights Advocates Program. The course will begin in the latter half of August and run until mid-December, 2014.

The Program will use the resources of Columbia University in New York City, as well as international organizations such as Human Rights Watch and WITNESS to build on participants’ skills and provide networking opportunities.

Participants will share their experiences, reflect critically on their strategies, and plan future campaigns with policy-makers and potential funders.

The course is designed for journalists, lawyers, doctors, teachers, social workers, community organizers and other human rights activists. Candidates must show that their organizations are willing for them to participate, and must commit to returning to that organization.

Journalists from low-income countries are eligible to apply for the program. Applicants from high-income countries will not be considered except when representing marginalized communities.

ISHR will make every effort to provide full funding to cover participants’ program costs as well as travel and housing. A stipend will be provided for basic expenses.

The deadline for applications is November 1, 2013.

For more information, click: http://hrcolumbia.org/hrap/apply/instructions/.

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Seedmap.org: An online portal for seeds, biodiversity and food

Although we rarely think about seeds, nine out of every 10 bites we eat today start as seeds. And seeds are under serious threat. Our planet lost 75% of its food-plant genetic diversity between 1900 and 2000, and 75% of our food is derived from only 12 plant and five animal species.

Seedmap.org is a valuable teaching and advocacy tool and reference point on seeds, biodiversity, and food, complete with news, resources, campaigns and an interactive seed map.

To access the interactive map, and read though many individual case studies, follow this link: http://map.seedmap.org/. For information on how to best use the map, go to this page: http://seedmap.org/seedmap/

There is also a poster of the map for download. You can find it here: http://seedmap.org/wp-content/uploads/Where-does-our-food-come-from_.png

The Seed Map is a project of USC Canada and the ETC Group.

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My Children: Ugandan competition winner

Kabaije Apophia is a farmer from Kiruhura District in southwestern Uganda. The20-year-old, recently married woman raises cows and goats. By voting on her favourite radio station, she recently won a t-shirt and the chance to visit the Radio West studios.

Mrs. Apophia listened to the My Children radio drama on Radio West and participated regularly in the program’s ongoing polls. She answered questions raised in the drama by sending a text message to the station during broadcasts.

My Children is a drama project which is being implemented by Farm Radio International, and is funded by HarvestPlus. Radio West is one of ten partner radio stations broadcasting the drama across Uganda.

FRI and technology partner TracFM identified listeners who participate regularly in the polls. The ten stations have been encouraging listenership and feedback on the drama, and rewarding listeners’ regular participation by offering small prizes. Mrs. Apophia was one of the lucky winners. She received her prize from Edimon Principle, the presenter of the farming program, at Radio West’s studios on October 6.

To find out more about My Children, follow this link: http://www.farmradio.org/portfolio/using-radio-drama-to-promote-orange-fleshed-sweet-potatoes-in-uganda/

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Soil conservation saves the land, even when a hurricane strikes

In this week’s story from Madagascar, farmers and fisherfolk try to recover from a cyclone. Natural disasters such as cyclones, floods and hurricanes often cause a lot of damage to farmland. But that damage can be reduced when farmers use soil conservation techniques. Farmers can build rock walls, establish grass barriers, add organic matter to the soil, and grow cover crops.

Some soil conservation techniques create physical barriers that stop soil from moving. Others use trees or cover crops to hold soil in place. Many soil conservation techniques hold moisture in the soil. Soil that holds moisture will stay in place when dry soil is washed or blown away. These are important considerations when you farm in a disaster-prone area.

After Hurricane Mitch hit Central America in 1998, a scientific study compared the damage on farms that used soil conservation with farms that did not. Farms that used soil conservation had deeper topsoil and higher levels of soil moisture. And they suffered much less damage from the hurricane.

Our script of the week tells the true story of Hurricane Mitch in the voices of two farmers who experienced it.


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