Girl in West Africa with wind up radioSIERRA LEONE:  Thinking that she'd get Ebola just by going to hospital for a check up, Yeabu, a pregnant woman living in Freetown stopped going to her antenatal classes out of fear.  

During Sierra Leone's Ebola outbreak in 2014/15 like the outset of the virus, rumours and misinformation spread quickly.

Lack of facts and inappropriate advice led to more people being vulnerable to infection.  The spread of the disease was blamed on the authorities or witchcraft, with some even denying the existence of the epidemic entirely.  

Access to reliable information was crucial to stopping the virus; people needed to know a range of things from the dangers of eating bush meat to how Ebola was spread.  Sierra Leoneans needed to know about symptoms, sanitation and how to get help; and radio was their preferred means of receiving this potentially life-saving information. 

With her own wind-up solar radio provided by Feba and our partners, Yeabu was relieved and happy "to receive this radio as I will have first hand information about Ebola and know what to do". 

In West Africa during the Ebola outbreak, radio was a key source of information, delivering programmes and messages to change attitudes and behaviours amongst listeners.  Media can play an important role in changing lives.  

Look out on social media, and you'll find a growing number of organisations using hashtags like #Media4Dev and #CommIsAid; communication is gaining recognition as being a critical part of aid and disaster response.  

With several projects across Africa, we have partners and programmes working to deliver life-changing broadcasts.  Here are 3 of them:   

Mozambique: Radio Wimbe

Radio Wimbe is embedded in the community of Pemba, Mozambique and the team are determined to address the issues which most affect their neighbours. Pemba is susceptible to severe flooding, and Radio Wimbe is influencing the local government to improve flood defences. Crime, domestic violence, the empowerment of women, and the prevention of cholera and malaria are all hot issues too, and Radio Wimbe offers its listeners guidance on all of them, welcoming contributions from the community.

It helps us to strengthen our homes, our culture, and teaches us to do business for the wellbeing of society. Radio Wimbe brings healing.

Radio Wimbe listener 

Radio Wimbe also has a knack for bringing people together. In several areas, Radio Wimbe listeners have formed listeners’ clubs, entirely on their own initiative. There have also been examples of listeners encountering Jesus through the station and becoming Christians. Both of these outcomes illustrate how Radio Wimbe’s work resonates with its neighbours and how much respect and affection the station has gained.

Zimbabwe: Karanda Mission Hospital Radio (KMH)

Travelling to hospital in a remote area of Zimbabwe can mean covering distances of many miles, over many days.  On arriving at Karanda Hospital, relatives may stay in or around the complex for several days.  The hospital offers fantastic services from emergency treatment, community health clinics and midwifery through to dentistry. However, many patients and relatives wait for long periods of time, often dealing with very difficult situations, and without anything to keep them occupied.  Hospital radio is a great solution, and is able to inform, educate and entertain patients and relatives across the compound.

Karanda Mission Hospital Radio Studio

KMH Radio broadcasts daily with programmes tackling issues such as polygamy, chilldhood immunizations, girls education, early marriage, farming methods as well as Bible teaching. 

Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo): Mungongo ya Muana 

Our trio of examples ends in the DRC, where new life-changing radio projects are flourishing. 

A girl speaks on market radio station Mungongo ya MuanaAn estimated 30,000 children and young people live on the streets of Kinshasa, DR Congo. They are at risk of violence from older children, from members of the public and even from the police. Food, shelter and medical treatment are hard to come by, and their prospects for the future are limited. But Feba’s partners in Kinshasa are working to change all this through a new radio project.

Mungongo ya Muana (The Voice of the Child) broadcasts discussions relevant to street children that include health, child protection and bullying. The presenters, including young people who themselves are from the streets, are encouraged to express their perspectives on life. Off-air, they are trained in radio production and life skills, gaining tools to create a better future for themselves.

Mungongo ya Muana is bringing life to vulnerable young people – both those who listen and those who speak on air.  Challenging negative attitudes towards street-living children in Kinshasa the project affirms the rights of street children to those who listen.

Bonus mention... Umoja FM

Actually we can't help but add another project in the DR of Congo to our more about the launch of the new community radio station, Umoja FM, in the east of DR Congo.  

see also:

What does an Ebola jingle sound like?

How is SALT helping after Ebola?

Published: 25th May 2016