28 Apr 2020 Northern Uganda: Ensuring rural farmers have a say in Covid-19 response
WACC is surveying its community media partners on their response to COVID-19 and their needs to help keep the communities they serve informed and safe. Community media need your help! Please donate to the Community Media Rapid Response Fund.
by Marites Sison
Radio Apac, Ltd., a community radio station in Northern Uganda and WACC Global project partner, is struggling to make ends meet but has nonetheless continued to disseminate “accurate, reliable and relevant information” about Covid-19 to a largely rural farming population in the districts of Apac, Oyam, Kole, Kwania and Lango.
The radio station says it has lost revenue due to the economic effects of the pandemic and has been unable to afford petrol to keep generators running and to meet its overhead costs. Instead, it has been using its savings to procure fuel for motorcycles that would allow boots-on-the-ground reporting and dissemination of information through its network of rural reporters and radio stations. The radio station reaches approximately 1,147,200 people.
“The geography of the region is vast and obscures villages after villages. It is impossible to imagine [them] when looking at a map,” said a report made by the radio station to WACC. “Yet in those villages, the pandemic may manifest, and this is where the reporters have to go to fight it, hence the need for motorcycles to penetrate the area.”
Priorities for the radio station include educating the people about the nature and symptoms of Covid-19, ways to prevent infection; informing them about available support and services; responding to questions about the disease; and obtaining feedback about Covid-19 services being rendered by government and other agencies.
“People can call in and have their say from a village far away. The radios are not just for one-way communication,” said Radio Apac. “There are radio clubs and call-in shows allowing the community to work with the presenters and influence the programming. Most importantly, the radios provide information that can protect the villages.”
It also noted that since most of its listeners only speak local languages, it was important to provide information that they could understand and use.
Photo above: Radio Apac reporter Deni Okelo (middle) receives a donation to help the radio station operate during the coronavirus pandemic.