Community Radio for Development in Kenya

At the Koriato Women’s Group near Kisumu,
Kenya, community radio serves as a vital tool for development.

At the Koriato Women’s Group near Kisumu, Kenya, community radio serves as an organizing tool for development in addition to functioning as a means to provide vital information to people in remote, isolated rural areas.

As Benta Atieno Ogonyo told me about the success of a new maize crop she smiled broadly. The native seeds usually produce smaller ears of corn which means less income and less food on the table for poor families in the area near the Koriato demonstration plot outside Kisumu, Kenya. But this year new seeds and bountiful rain has resulted in a bumper crop and she is happy.

Ms. Ogonyo is coordinator of a women’s development organization of 85 women. It relies on micro-credit to provide them capital to plant and grow crops for market and for their families. It is one of 48 community groups supported by the RECA Development Organization directed by Peter Odengho, a development specialist who founded RECA ten years ago.

The women participate in various training events to equip them with skills to keep their accounts, sell in the market at a profit, take care of their local environment, prevent diseases through better sanitation and pursue literacy. They are currently banking 20 Kenya Shillings per week, approximately 25 cents U.S. which they use to purchase materials for the group. They also repay micro loans. This is a place of dirt poor poverty.

The women also operate an orphanage for 27 AIDS orphans, paying a “Mama” who is a caregiver for the children. They have created a small seed nursery for produce, a drip irrigation demonstration project for small gardens and they participate in developing programming for the RECA community radio station.

They also cross-breed poultry and collect eggs from 600 layers for market. They have learned how to construct bricks and are building sanitary latrines to prevent contamination of village land by human waste. They have also received a water tank and pump that provides nearby residents with a source of pure water.

Peter told us in this region clean water is more valuable than oil.

Listening groups are brought together twice weekly to bring residents from various villages up to date about concerns in their respective villages. These groups also identify information needs that become the source for programming on the community radio station. While the station is not broadcasting due to a delay in government permits for the antenna, it is distributing information through a satellite distribution system, relying on a solar-powered radio that is a boom box grown up. It includes medium wave, FM and satellite bands that allow both audio and data distribution. This small, inexpensive, functional system is the only effective means of distribution to areas like Koriato where, according to Peter, it is sometimes difficult to reach even by bicycle.

Within a week antenna construction will have begun and the community station will reach an estimated 1.2 million people in the rural regions around Kisumu.

(I will post photos of the Africa trip as quickly as I can process them and post them to the web.)

Join the conversation!

Post a reply in the form below.

Leave a Reply:

Gravatar Image