In a war-torn region, radios are overcoming borders | Africa | DW | 04.04.2018
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Africa

In a war-torn region, radios are overcoming borders

The Cross-Border Network of Ugandan and South Sudanese radios is young, but gathering momentum. Supported by DW Akademie, it brings journalists together in exchanging radio programmes, particularly on refugee issues.

George Driliga, station manager of Morobo FM, and other journalists at a Cross-Border Network meeting in Kampala. ( Sheila Mysorekar )

George Driliga, station manager of "Morobo FM", and other journalists at a Cross-Border Network meeting in Kampala.

Jane Angom smiles proudly: "Now we are even getting requests from refugee settlements", she says, "asking our radio whether we could organise debates on current topics in there and broadcast them live." Jane Angom is the station manager of "Speak FM" in Gulu, Uganda. She was recently elected as new coordinator on the Ugandan side of the Cross-Border Network (CBN). "The CBN is a good concept," Jane maintains, "it facilitates to disseminate vital information."

Weekly programmes about and for refugees

"Speak FM" is a community radio with strong focus on women and community development. Since June 2017, however, a new program is aired weekly: 30 minutes on refugee issues. "This started with the contributions of our Mobile Reporters in the refugee settlements, who were trained by DW Akademie. We could then compile regular, weekly programmes about and for refugees", Jane Angom explains.

Jane Angom, station manager of Speak FM and Ugandan coordinator of the Cross-Border Network is convinced that teaming up is the right thing to do. ( Sheila Mysorekar)

Jane Angom, station manager of "Speak FM" and Ugandan coordinator of the Cross-Border Network is convinced that teaming up is the right thing to do.

According to Jane, the Cross-Border Network will help to spread relevant information, like these stories from the refugee camps and others, by sharing programmes with radio stations all over Northern Uganda and the Southern region of South Sudan. "Sometimes the information is important to improve people’s lives," Jane points out. "For instance, poor girls in this area have been taught how to make reusable sanitary pads. Via CBN, this information can be shared. The impact is therefore much greater."

The network idea: broadcasting across the border

George Driliga agrees. The station manager of Morobo FM from Morobo/ South Sudan, had to flee his home country in 2016. As the war intensified, George as well as the entire radio staff and their families had to cross the border to save their lives. All Morobo FM journalists are now scattered in various refugee settlements in Uganda and DR Congo. But with help of Mobile Reporting, they now produce a weekly programme which is being aired by a Ugandan radio – with a coverage far into South Sudan, including their home town Morobo. The first programme is aired on the 5th of April.

In this context, "the Cross Border Network means a lot to us," George says. "The same issues affect our families in South Sudan and our brothers in Uganda. When the CBN members share their programming, people in South Sudan and in Uganda will know what is going on in the settlement camps. They don’t need to rely on rumours anymore, but they will have proven facts." The mobile reporters from the refugee settlements help to gather information, which then can be distributed to all stations in the network. For George the CBN "has come at the right time!"

The lawyer Celia Kalaa helped the CBN register in Uganda. (Sheila Mysorekar)

The lawyer Celia Kalaa helped the CBN register in Uganda.

The cooperation will be intensified

The Cross-Border Network (CBN) has just completed a General Meeting of all members in Kampala, Uganda. Recently, the network has "successfully been registered in Uganda," says the lawyer Celia Kalaa. Also, the wording of a Memorandum of Understanding has been discussed, which is supposed to be signed soon by all members. With the legal issues all settled, the CBN is ready to go full throttle into its main reason of being: the exchange of programming between the different stations. 

 

DW Akademie's projects in Uganda are supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

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