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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 #305

Security issues: Food, shelter and fishing grounds

Hello! Welcome to Farm Radio Weekly issue #305. This edition has an East African flavour. Farmers are profiting from an improved variety of banana in Rwanda; we look at the security situation for women and girls in camps for displaced people in South Sudan; and we hear about the explosive situation in Tanzanian fisheries.

In 2006, the Rwandan government introduced a policy of regional crop specialization. This means that farmers in different parts of the country are required to embrace new varieties of, and new ideas about, their crops. Farmer Laurent Mushingwamana found bananas to his liking.

The civil war in South Sudan has forced thousands from their homes to escape violence and bloodshed. One hundred thousand people are internally displaced and have sought solace in UN camps. But are the camps protecting women and girls from sexual violence?

Tanzanian fisherfolk are resorting to explosives to land bigger catches! Stunning a shoal of fish with a stick of dynamite can mean big profits. But the damage caused to the maritime environment may result in the loss of fishing grounds and coral reefs.

This week, we present the first in an occasional series of articles which feature our broadcasting partners. After taking part in an FRI pilot project on weather services for farmers, Rotlinde Achimpota initiated a farming program on her station, the Arusha-based Mambo Jambo. Read more in the Action section below.

Give someone a fish, and you feed them for a day; teach a person how to fish, and you feed them for a lifetime. Unless someone uses dynamite to catch all the fish at once …

Have a happy and peaceful week!

the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Rwanda: Farmer adopts improved bananas and becomes role model (by Fulgence Niyonagize, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Laurent Mushingwamana uprooted all of his old banana trees and replaced them with new suckers. His neighbour, Mathias Ndikunkiko, could not believe his eyes. Mr. Ndikunkiko recalls: “When I saw him uproot all his trees, I thought he had gone mad. I asked myself, ‘How could he replace the plants which have fed us since our childhood?’”

Laurent Mushingwamana is the chief of Gitovu, a village in Karongi District, in the Western province of Rwanda. Bananas are the main crop in the region and Mr. Mushingwamana is considered a model farmer.

Mr. Mushingwamana explains how he began the process of improving his bananas. In 2006, Rwanda implemented a new policy of “agricultural regionalization” that encouraged farmers to specialize in crops that were most suitable to their climatic regions. Mr. Mushingwamana says: “I used to cultivate bananas traditionally, like the others. Then one day we had a meeting with other administrative authorities. We were asked to be the pioneers in developing our respective communities.”

Bananas were one of the crops chosen for Karongi District. Mr. Mushingwamana also grows beans and potatoes but chose to make bananas his main crop. In 2009, he decided to learn as much as he could about bananas. He recalls: “I went to nearby Rubengera to visit an Anglican church that grows bananas. This church is also a banana plant multiplication centre. I learned how and why I could improve my farming.”

Mr. Mushingwamana remained at the centre for a week. He returned home with planting materials for a new variety called FIYA. It was the increase in yield that quickly convinced his neighbours to follow his lead. Mr. Ndikunkiko, the neighbour who thought Mr. Mushingwamana was crazy for uprooting his bananas, says, “When I saw his yields, I immediately uprooted my own bananas.”

According to Mr. Mushingwamana, the new variety produces bunches of bananas that weigh a minimum of 80 kilograms. He says: “The largest bunches from the traditional variety only weighed between 20 and 30 kilograms. Each banana plant now earns me between 8,000 and 10,000 Rwandan francs [$11.50-14.50 U.S.].” Bunches from the traditional variety earned him barely 2,000 francs [$2.90 U.S.].

Mr. Mushingwamana is still leading by example. Agricultural extension officers regularly invite him to share his experiences with farmers from other villages. He shares his secrets with them, such as how to properly maintain plants and how best to apply manure.

In recognition of his efforts, Mr. Mushingwamana was presented with a cow by Karongi’s mayor. But his journey is far from over. He says, “I have just set up a banana farmers’ co-operative, which we’ll use to spread the best practices in banana production widely.”

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South Sudan: Women fearful in camps for internally displaced people (IRIN)

Julie Francis starts her self-imposed curfew at sunset. Since December 2013, the widowed mother of four has been living at the United Nations base outside Malakal, 40 kilometres from the Sudanese border.

Mrs. Francis is one of more than 17,000 people who came to the camp to escape violence in Malakal, the capital of South Sudan’s Upper Nile State. But the overcrowded camp has its own dangers, especially for women and girls.

Mrs. Francis hears drunken teenagers hound women walking on the site’s dark paths. She sees the holes men cut through the tarpaulin walls of the showers to peep and leer at women. She comforts survivors of rape.

She says, “It is too much. They attack us at … the toilets or at night where we collect water.”

There were twenty-eight reported cases of sexual assault in the camp in the first half of 2014, according to the Global Protection Cluster. But aid workers say it is probable that the vast majority of attacks go unreported.

Nor is the problem limited to this one camp. Since renewed fighting broke out in in mid-December, nearly 100,000 people have crowded into 10 camps in the eastern half of the country, all administered by the UN Mission in South Sudan, or UNMISS.

There are no official statistics, but humanitarian groups say sexual and gender-based violence is present to varying degrees in all the larger camps. Women and girls feel a growing resentment at the lack of action to protect them from rape, assault, harassment and domestic violence.

Nana Ndeda is the advocacy and policy manager for Care International. She says, “[Women are] getting very frustrated by the fact that UNMISS is not able to provide the kind of security that they would want provided.”

Malakal camp was established nearly nine months ago and Ms. Ndeda says it is high time that UNMISS, aid agencies and camp leaders figure out how to better protect women. As she points out, “There’s no end in sight to the [camp] world.”

In 2005, UN agencies and humanitarian groups produced a booklet entitled Guidelines for Gender-Based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings. The booklet makes detailed recommendations on creating safe spaces for women to seek help, and provides guidelines for encouraging women and girls to be involved in improving their own situation.

But with the sudden, massive movement of people to hastily constructed camps, UNMISS employees have been unable so far to implement the UN guidelines.

Every night, Mrs. Francis pushes a bedframe in front of the entrance to her tent as soon as it gets dark. When she or her daughters need to go to the bathroom, they use a bag.

Mrs. Francis thinks the situation is unfair. She says, “People should take this seriously. There are still people who need to know that it is not right to rape.

To read the article on which this story was based, Women fearful in South Sudan camps, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100591/women-fearful-in-south-sudan-camps

To read the handbook, Guidelines for Gender-Based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings, go to: http://www.refworld.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/rwmain?docid=439474c74

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Tanzania: ‘Blast fishing’ destroying marine habitats (BBC)

Along the coast of Tanzania, you can hear the dull thuds of underwater explosions. Fishers are using explosives to maximize their catch. But the rich coastal marine life is being destroyed as more and more fishers turn to illegal methods to make a profit.

Fishers light explosives and toss then overboard. The explosions generate underwater shock waves which stun fish and other marine creatures. Any fish that float to the surface are scooped up with nets and taken to the fish markets.

Experts say one blast is enough to kill everything within a 20-metre radius. But the explosions also destroy underwater coral systems, home to countless fish and other marine animals.

One worried fisherman prepares his wooden boat by the beautiful, calm waters of the Indian Ocean. His small vessel is one of the many that ply the thousands of kilometres of coastline. He says: “Blast fishing destroys the fish habitats underwater where fish reproduce. The number of fish has drastically reduced. We are not able to catch many fish like before.”

He and his colleagues have informed the police about blast fishers, but the practice continues. There is a secretive and apparently sophisticated network in place. Arrested dynamiters may be bribing officials to avoid prosecution. The fisherman says, “If they find out that you reported them they … threaten to hurl explosives on your boat, so sometimes we are scared to report them.”

Baraka Mngulwi works in the government department of Fisheries Resource Protection. His department faces a huge challenge. Mr. Mngulwi says that the punishments for blast fishing ─ up to five years in prison and a further 12 months for possession of explosives ̶ are not a deterrent. One blast can enable a catch of up to 400 kilograms of fish and a profit of $1,800 U.S. The temptation is just too great.

SmartFish is a fisheries program funded by the European Union. The program says that Tanzania is the only country in Africa which still practices large-scale blast fishing.

Michael Markovina works for SmartFish. He says that, after a series of blasts, coral reefs resemble a war-torn city. Mr. Markovina believes that blast fishing will turn Tanzania’s coastal waters into a barren wasteland.

Every morning, fishermen haul their catches to hundreds of traders in Dar es Salaam’s busy fish market. Demand outstrips supply, and auctioneers quickly sell the catch to the highest bidders.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to spot a dynamited fish. One trader says she can identify blasted fish by their loosened scales. She says, “We don’t buy them. Because of the impact of the blasts, they rot very fast … Some buyers and sellers don’t know that, so they buy them.”

Bala Gomwa is an auction officer. He says, “If you are not experienced, it’s very difficult. Out of 60 auctioneers, maybe two or three can tell.”

Mwanya Sleiman is a former blast fisher who now campaigns against the practice. He lost both hands when an explosive detonated before he could throw it overboard. He says: “My motivation was just the money I got from selling the fish, but I didn’t know about the impact it would have on me or the underwater environment.”

Mr. Sleiman urges others to learn from his experience. He explains, “I want the future generation to find a conserved Indian Ocean so that they can also enjoy the resources.”

To read the article on which this story was based, Blast fishing destroying Tanzania’s marine habitats, go to: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-29049264

For more information and resources about blast fishing, go to: http://www.tnrf.org/en/dynamitefishing

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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-Liberia: Hip hop radio station informs community about Ebola

A Monrovia-based music radio station is playing a different tune by broadcasting public information about Ebola. Hip hop DJs at Hott FM rap regularly about quarantine centres, preventative measures and new cases of the disease.

The UN Children’s Fund, or UNICEF Liberia, teamed up with Hott FM to produce a hip hop song called, “Ebola is real.” It provides practical, youth-focussed advice on the virus. Two other Ebola-themed songs have been getting airplay across the country.

UNICEF states that almost half of Liberia’s population is under the age of 18. Using popular music to broadcast essential information about Ebola may help stem the spread of the disease.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-09-01/liberias-hottest-hip-hop-station-has-all-latest-ebols-music-and-news

2-Kenya: Better soil protection boosts crop yields

According to a report from the Nairobi-based Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, or AGRA, about 1.7 million small-scale farmers in 13 African countries have adopted practices to improve the health of their soils, boosting their crop yields and incomes.

AGRA says its soil health program has led to the rejuvenation of more than 1.6 million hectares of degraded land in the past five years. Farmers who participated in the AGRA initiative in Tanzania, Malawi and Ghana have reported 200-300 per cent increases in yields of maize, pigeon pea and soybean.

According to the report, it is essential to tackle soil erosion and introduce beneficial farming practices such as crop rotation and sustainable fertilizer use. “Unhealthy soils,” the report states, “… could kill Africa’s hopes for a prosperous, food-secure future.”

To read the full article, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20140821222748-4l1tj/

3-Democratic Republic of Congo: Thirty-seven dead from Ebola as virus spreads

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has spread into northwestern DRC, 800 kilometres from Kinshasa, the capital of the central African nation.

The Ministry of Health says the Ebola virus has spread to nine northwestern communities. Félix Kabange Numbi, DRC Minister of Health, reported that 37 people have died as of September 11. There were a further 66 suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola, according to the Minister.

The NGO Médicins sans Frontiérs has opened two health centres in affected areas of the DRC to help treat people infected with the virus. The World Health Organization states that, since March, 2,300 West Africans have died in the Ebola outbreak.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.jeuneafrique.com/Article/ARTJAWEB20140912082729/sante-virus-ebola-ebola-sante-ebola-a-fait-37-morts-en-rdc.html?utm

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Call for applications: Dart Center Ochberg Fellowships for 2014-15

Reporting responsibly and credibly on violence or traumatic events ─ such as street crime and family violence, natural disasters and accidents, war and genocide ─ is a great challenge.

Since 1999, the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, a project of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has offered the annual Ochberg Fellowships to outstanding journalists interested in exploring these critical issues.

The Ochberg Fellowship is a seminar program for senior and mid-career journalists who wish to deepen their knowledge of emotional trauma and psychological injury, and improve reporting on violence, conflict and tragedy. Successful applicants will attend an intensive week-long program of seminars and discussions to be held January 17-22, 2015 at Columbia University in New York City.

Program activities include: briefings by prominent interdisciplinary experts in the trauma and mental health fields; conversations with journalist colleagues on issues of ethics, craft and other aspects of professional practice; and a host of other opportunities for intellectual engagement and peer learning.

Twelve fellowships are available for print, broadcast and online reporters, photographers, editors and producers with at least five years of full-time journalism experience. All fellowship seminars will be conducted in English. Fellows must be fluent in spoken English to participate in the program.

The fellowship covers travel to and accommodation in New York City, as well as most meals and other expenses directly related to program participation. The program does not cover costs related to travel visas, health insurance or ground transportation in fellows’ home cities.

Further information is available here: http://dartcenter.org/content/2014-ochberg-fellowship-guidelines#.VBaFk_mSxqX

Applications must include a CV, samples of work, and recommendation letters from past or current employers. The deadline for applications is October 1, 2014, using the online application form: http://dartcenter.org/2014-ochberg-fellowship-application

Selected fellows will be notified by email in early November.

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Free on-line agricultural training videos: Crops, livestock and business skills

Access Agriculture is an international NGO that encourages the use of training videos to help farmers improve their farming and generate higher profits. The organization’s videos are designed to support sustainable agriculture in developing countries.

The videos, available in several languages, are designed for use by agricultural research and development staff and communication professionals. Extension agents or representatives of farmer organizations will also find the information useful in the trainings they provide to farmers.

The videos can be downloaded or watched online. In addition, the audio tracks can be downloaded for use by radio stations, and DVD copies of programs can be requested on Access Agriculture’s website.

You can search the website at this address: http://www.accessagriculture.org/

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Farm Radio International helps broadcaster become weather expert

Rotlinde Achimpota from Radio Mambo Jambo

Mambo Jambo Radio, affectionately known to its listeners as MJ, is a music and entertainment radio station based in Arusha, Tanzania. But in a first for MJ, its newest program focuses on agriculture and how to engage young people in farming.

Kilimo na Jamii, or Farming and society, hit the airwaves in northern Tanzania in June of this year. The program’s host, Rotlinde Achimpota, is no stranger to farming. She grows maize, cassava, pumpkins and potatoes in her kitchen garden in Usa River, about 25 kilometres east of Arusha.

Kilimo na Jamii is a 30-minute farmer radio program which airs every Saturday. Ms. Achimpota features farming advice from local agricultural extension officers and stories about successful farmers. But the highlights of the show are the two weather reports, during which Ms. Achimpota provides critical weather information for farmers in the station’s listening area.

Ms. Achimpota spent three months at The Hangar, Farm Radio International’s Arusha-based Radio and ICT Innovation Lab. There, she honed her skills as the reporter and producer of Beep for Weather. This is a mobile phone-based weather forecast which includes advice for farmers on how to use the forecast.

Ms. Achimpota receives weather data from the Tanzania Meteorological Agency and Toto Agriculture. She takes this data to extension officer Digna Massawe, who helps her provide listeners with an accurate weather forecast and meaningful analysis. During a three-month trial, farmers found the service useful; weather patterns have become erratic recently because of the changing climate.

Ms. Achimpota says her work with FRI helped her become more comfortable recording and editing the interviews and news items on her radio program. She says, “I’m becoming a radio producer. I do the [radio] program all by myself. I prepare it every week.”

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Women face many challenges after conflict

Stress, confusion, grief and anguish are emotions frequently experienced by people in conflicts or in emergency situations. The following script is intended to encourage discussion about these feelings. It includes a radio drama-style discussion among three village women, and testimonials from a relief worker and from a man who has returned home after a war. You could use them as individual stories, or broadcast them together as one longer program.

There are other ways that broadcasters can help people in their community, and especially women, deal with emotions during or after conflict:

  1. Reinforce the idea that it is normal for people to have strong feelings in these types of situations. When you interview local people, include questions that invite them to talk about their own lives and families. However, leave discussion of traumatic events to trained counsellors.
  2. Promote community events and encourage listeners to attend. It is more difficult for people to deal with complex emotions when they are isolated. Support efforts to bring people together.
  3. Create special programming for women. This can take many forms – group discussions, interviews, or radio dramas. Invite women to call the radio station if they need help from the community. For example, a woman might be looking for lost relatives, or need help with child care or chores.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-67-rebuilding-rural-lives-livelihoods/women-face-many-challenges-after-conflict/

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