17:44 on March 8th 2012
IMAGINE A WORLD when all you know is how to hoe your field, the only way you find out anything important is to ask the oldest man in your community for news, and if you want to tell your family that your uncle has died, or your daughter just married, you must walk for more than a week to tell them face to face.
That was the reality I walked into back in 1999 when ALT launched Project Radio in southern Madagascar. Our participative radio production over ten years made a real difference to that story. Women told evaluators in 2006 that they no longer had to rely on male elders to tell them what was happening – they could hear it on the radios we had given them (Solar/wind up radios).
Villages who listened to our educational radio broadcasts demonstrated changes in their attitudes and behaviours – for example : using fuel efficient stoves that would save 65% of normal wood demands for cooking the evening meal; taking their children to be vaccinated; growing tomatoes where traditionally they would not; adopting new farming techniques; planting trees; attending literacy programmes; accepting that HIV might be a reality and that sexual attitudes and practices need to change. Listeners also reported they were happy to have regular news, weather warnings and to be able to communicate with each other!http://andrewleestrust.org/Reports/1%20Project%20Radio%20Impact%20Study%20-%20Metcalf,%20Harford%20and%20Myers.pdf
In 2007, Andrew Lees Trust built on its radio project experiences and – using oral testimony techniques – began projects to increase the ‘voice’ of local people so they could better influence development strategies by sharing their knowledge and perspectives with regional and national decision makers. ttp://www.andrewleestrust.org/hepa.htm
ALT’s new project : Village Voices for Development is the next step and will use radio and mobile telephony as the media to facilitate direct debate between villagers and decision makers about local development challenges. The project aims to create a more open society, promote human rights and encourage improved relations between ordinary people and the decision makers who decide their future. http://www.andrewleestrust.org/voices.htm
How will VVD Work?
Village Voices for Development (VVD) will build on ALT’s ten years of experience with Project Radio ’http://www.andrewleestrust.org/radio.htm and benefit from working with existing Radio Listening Groups in the Androy region.
The project will enable villagers to discuss and record their most challenging development issues, and to pose questions and express their concerns about these to local decision makers who in turn will listen to the recorded points and respond. The Q and A will be broadcast as one dialogue – creating a new dynamic of direct exchange, dissolving cultural barriers to communication and promoting greater openness, transparency and inclusion.
Phone in debates will also be a feature of this project – a new experience for the community and the radio stations – and in this way the stakeholders will be invited to explore different ways to open up dialogue and share their points of view.
The project will ensure that women and young people, traditionally excluded from decision making processes in the village, will be given equal opportunities to participate in the project with appropriate time and space for their specific needs.