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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 #306

Rebuilding lives

Welcome to Farm Radio Weekly. Issue #306 highlights stories from Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo about rebuilding after conflict has shattered lives. We also present a story from Côte d’Ivoire about prisoners learning farming skills in prison.

Micheline Kavuo was forced to flee her farm and live a city life when hostilities broke out in northeastern DRC. But now that the Congolese army have repulsed the rebels and the authorities are making the countryside safer, she and her brother are starting to farm again.

Facing Justice was a biweekly radio program which aired on stations across northern Uganda. During its four-year lifetime, the program helped rebuild a community fractured by two decades of war. Now, its successor is carrying the torch of peace and reconciliation.

Prison life can be dark, depressing and dangerous. But it can also provide an environment where offenders are rehabilitated and learn valuable skills. A prison farm in Côte d’Ivoire is offering inmates a chance to escape overcrowded cells, eat better, and prepare for life on the outside.

October 2, 2014, is the International Day of Non-violence. The Day promotes using non-violence during protests and when demonstrating against injustice. Will your station organize a feature show on the Day? Follow the hyperlink for more information and resources.

The Ebola outbreak is still affecting communities across West Africa. Unfortunately, there has also been an outbreak of cholera in Ghana. Our Action section below features a script which can be used as a public service announcement. Please use it if cholera threatens people in your broadcast area.

Have a great week, and keep broadcasting!

-the Farm Radio Weekly Team

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Democratic Republic of Congo: Farmer recovers as DRC conflict ends (by Jacques Kikuni Kokonyange, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Tears well up in Micheline Kavuo’s eyes as she remembers everything she lost.

Ms. Kavuo is a farmer from Mamoundioma, a village 50 kilometres from the city of Beni, in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Like many other farmers in the region, she had to abandon her five-hectare plot when a Ugandan-backed rebel army invaded.

For three long years, she could not set foot on her farm. Forced to take refuge in the city, Ms. Kavuo found a job in a bakery which paid $50 U.S. per month. She had a hard time making ends meet.

She says, “I lost my cocoa plantation because those terrorists ravaged my farm. But today I am happy … to have recovered my land.”

She finally returned to her fields in June of this year, after the Congolese army pushed the rebels back across the border. She found nothing but withered cocoa plants. She says, “It looked like a hurricane had ripped through [the field].”

It is early in the morning but Ms. Kavuo is already at work, weeding her field. Her younger brother is beside her, pruning the few remaining cocoa trees with a machete. Little by little, things are returning to normal on the farm.

Like Ms. Kavuo, more and more farmers are returning to the countryside. The provincial government has begun to rebuild roads in rural areas to help farmers resume their lives. Police sweep the area for unexploded mines.

The government distributed improved seeds to help farmers who had lost almost everything. Ms. Kavuo planted cassava and plantains. Both are in high demand in surrounding towns.

She sold her first harvest only three months after returning to the farm. The proceeds allowed her to pay off some debts. She also rebuilt her dilapidated house. She says: “I profited from taking my harvests to the market in the city of Oicha. Buyers came to me … I felt like a princess because I am one of the few women who has been able to get back into farming after the end of the conflict.”

She is hoping to get a loan from a local farmers’ co-operative to diversify her crops. She says, “I also need the help of an agronomist so that I can prevent my banana trees and cassava plants from being attacked by parasites.”

Encouraged by her first harvest, Ms. Kavuo is daring to dream of bigger things.

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Uganda: Radio for justice and human rights in northern Uganda (by Adam Bemma, for Farm Radio Weekly)

A chime rings out from the radio speakers. A booming male voice intones: “This is Facing Justice, brought to you by the Institute of War and Peace Reporting, discussing issues of justice and human rights in northern Uganda.”

Facing Justice was a biweekly radio program which aired on radio stations across seven northern Ugandan districts. It was first broadcast in September 2009 and ended in 2013. During its four-year lifetime, the program helped rebuild a community shattered by two decades of war.

Tackling justice and human rights was a bold move for northern Uganda’s local radio stations. But an estimated 4.6 million Ugandans tuned in twice a week to Mega FM, Radio Rhino, Voice of Teso, Radio Palwak and Radio Pacis to hear about the reconciliation process.

In 2010 and 2011, the Northern Uganda Media Club, or NUMEC, took over production of Facing Justice from the Institute of War and Peace Reporting, or IWPR. The program was picked up and broadcast on a network of 12 radio stations. In 2014, its successor program is still going strong.

Simon Jennings is the Africa editor at IWPR. He says: “This radio show was a follow-up to the International Criminal Court’s 2005 indictment of Joseph Kony and LRA [Lord’s Resistance Army] commanders. The idea was to … monitor these developments and give people a voice and [an] insight into these complex processes.”

Mr. Jennings adds, “Radio is a key medium. Through it, we were able to reach a huge audience.”

Facing Justice was a 30-minute program broadcast in English, Luo, Ateso and Lugbara. It examined community topics such as the availability of health services, gender-based violence and access to clean drinking water.

But Facing Justice was not simply a radio show. IWPR trained freelance Ugandan journalists and staff at its partner radio stations, focusing on investigative reporting. Reporters were taught how best to tackle stories like the hunt for Kony. Internally displaced people were still returning home and this subject, in particular, was a sensitive one for many listeners.

Mr. Jennings says: “Some of the journalists IWPR trained have gone on to work as reporters in media houses in Gulu, Lira and Kampala. One reporter is now a correspondent for the national Daily Monitor newspaper in Uganda. In all, we trained 30 to 40 journalists.”

Moses Odokonyero is the chairman of NUMEC. He says: “Following the launch of Facing Justice in 2009, new training modules in investigative reporting and technical sound production for radio have raised the standard of reporting among the local journalists.”

He adds: “It has also equipped the journalists with [the] specific editorial skills necessary for them to choose topics and story angles relevant to the local audience.”

As the situation in northern Uganda improves, radio programming is responding. Earlier this year, NUMEC launched Voices for Peace, a peacebuilding radio program which continues where Facing Justice left off.

Mr. Odokonyero explains: “Voices for Peace, which will air throughout 2014, is acting as a much needed platform to share information on peace. [It aims to provoke] debate around post-conflict issues in northern Uganda, and thus contribute to de-escalating conflicts that could otherwise turn violent.”

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Côte d’Ivoire: Prison farming cultivates dignity (IPS)

François Kouamé wears his prison number like a badge of honour. Mr. Kouamé makes his way to a field where cassava and maize plants are starting to grow, passing two new tractors along the way. He proudly exclaims, “Look at those sprouts. It is a lot of work!”

Ivorian authorities have been searching for alternatives to overcrowded prisons and malnourished prisoners. And they may have found the answer — prison farming.

The Saliakro Prison Farm is the first of its kind in Côte d’Ivoire. Its 21 buildings provide accommodation for 150 prisoners sentenced to less than three years for non-violent crimes. Mr. Kouamé is serving a one-year sentence for cutting down trees on a cocoa plantation. In a former summer camp, he and other prisoners are learning new farming skills.

For Mr. Kouamé, the farm is a relief after six months of incarceration at Soubré State Prison. He says, “We were sleeping four persons in a space that could contain only one person. And we were granted only a bowl of rice per day.”

Now he eats three meals a day and sleeps in a clean room with 16 other prisoners. Each man has his own bunk bed, a closet, and plenty of space to move about.

Mamadou Doumbia is serving a two-year sentence for stealing computers. He spent 11 months in Agboville Prison, near the country’s economic capital, Abidjan, before being sent to Saliakro Prison Farm.

Agboville was an unpleasant place, according to Mr. Doumbia. He witnessed rapes, and says prisoners were malnourished and had problems with pests. At Saliakro, he says, “I feel … human again.”

Ivorian authorities at the Ministry of Justice and supporters at French NGO Prisoners without Borders plan to use the Saliakro project to improve inmate conditions, reduce costs and help prisoners reintegrate into the community after serving their time.

Pinguissie Ouattara is the superintendent of Saliakro Prison and also manages the Dimbokro Prison a few kilometres away. He believes the new prison farm will have a positive effect on prison rehabilitation.

Mr. Ouattara says: “It is about more than feeding themselves … It is about learning new skills and being able to reintegrate and participate fully in society. This is about bringing an alternative to crime, and decreasing the crime rate.”

Though Mr. Kouamé was a farmer before he was sentenced to prison, the experience at Saliakro has been valuable. He has learned a lot from the agronomists since he arrived in December 2013. He says, “I have learnt here many things that will make my farm more profitable, notably by diversifying production.”

To read the article on which this story is based, How farming is making Côte d’Ivoire’s prisoners ‘feel like being human again,’ go to: http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/08/how-farming-in-making-cote-divoires-prisoners-feel-like-being-human-again/

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Call for applications: Reporting course on governance and corruption

TrustMedia is offering a reporting course on governance and corruption. Among other subjects, participants will learn how to decipher financial documents and use investigative techniques to expose corruption.

Applicants must be working journalists or regular contributors to print, broadcast or online media organizations. They must have at least two years of professional experience and a good level of spoken and written English.

Bursaries are available for journalists from the developing world or countries in political transition who work for organizations with no resources for training. Bursaries cover air travel, accommodation and a modest living allowance.

The course runs from December 15-19, 2014, in London, England.

The application deadline is October 3, 2014.

For more information, go to: http://www.trust.org/course/?id=a05D000000PG2ApIAL

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African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms

The African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms is a Pan-African initiative to promote human rights standards and principles of openness in formulating and implementing Internet policy in Africa.

According to its authors, the Declaration is intended to elaborate on the principles necessary to uphold human rights on the Internet, and to cultivate an Internet environment that can best meet Africa’s social and economic development needs and goals.

To find out more, please visit the website at: http://africaninternetrights.org/

To read the full text of the Declaration, go to: http://africaninternetrights.org/declaration/

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Radio spot on cholera

In light of the current cholera outbreak in Ghana, Farm Radio International’s Ghana office arranged for the following radio script to be distributed to many of FRI’s broadcasting partners in the country. The script touches on both the prevention and treatment of cholera. It was adapted from a piece written by Kuma Drah. Broadcasters across Africa can use this information to create their own radio spots and other pieces on cholera.

VOICE I: Do you know how you can prevent the loss of lives during an outbreak of cholera? Let’s find out more about cholera from a doctor.

VOICE 2: Cholera is a severe diarrhea-like infection that is caused by eating food or water contaminated by a particular kind of bacteria or germ. Cholera can kill untreated people within hours through excessive loss of fluid.

VOICE 1: How can we prevent cholera?

VOICE 2: You can prevent cholera by taking the following three steps:

First, drink only boiled or treated water and bottled or canned carbonated beverages.

Second, wash your hands often with soap and clean water.

Third, if soap and water are not available, wash your hands with an alcohol-based hand cleaner that contains at least 60% alcohol.

It’s most important to clean your hands before you eat or prepare food and after using the toilet.

You should also:

Eat foods that are packaged or that are freshly cooked and served hot.

Avoid eating raw or undercooked meats or seafood, or unpeeled fruits and vegetables.

Dispose of faeces in a sanitary manner to avoid contaminating water and food.

VOICE 1: Doctor, what should we do when we suspect that someone has cholera?

VOICE 2: Cholera can be simply and successfully treated by immediately replacing the fluid and salts lost through diarrhea. Patients are given oral rehydration solution, also called ORS. ORS is a pre-packaged mixture of sugar and salts which is mixed with water and drunk in large quantities. You can also prepare your own ORS at home if ORS packets are not available.

VOICE 1: Doctor, how do I prepare ORS at home?

VOICE 2: You need three ingredients: First, 1 litre or five 200-millilitre cups of clean water.

Second, six level teaspoons of sugar.

Third, half a level teaspoon of salt.

Stir the mixture till the sugar dissolves.

The patient should drink as much of the mixture as possible in order to replace the excessive loss of fluid.

VOICE 1: What next, Doctor?

VOICE 2: Rush the patient to a health facility. Remember that cholera is a germ usually found in water or food that has been contaminated by the faeces of a person infected with cholera. You can prevent the spread of cholera by keeping your hands, food, water and surroundings clean.

VOICE 1: Thank you very much, Doctor, for your clear and concise advice to keep our hands clean, eat and drink only food and liquids we know to be safe, prevent our faeces from contaminating water supplies, and rehydrating and seeking medical assistance as soon as possible.

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No water, no life: Corruption in a Zambian prison

Our story from Côte d’Ivoire shows a positive side to prison life. But that’s not always the case. Our script of the week looks at corruption in a Zambian prison, focusing on access to clean drinking water.

Like many Africans, a large percentage of Zambians get their drinking water from rainwater, shallow wells or unclean or contaminated water from streams. In response, governments, NGOs, donors and others have pumped funds into the water system in order to improve infrastructure, including in the prison system.

But, unfortunately, even prison systems are subject to corruption.

In this script, we see how people from different backgrounds were affected when a prison commissioner took advantage of his position to use a borehole meant for the prison for his own private use, and what happened when he was discovered.


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