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The Cross-Border Network of Ugandan and South Sudanese radio stations is young and gathering momentum. Supported by DW Akademie, it brings journalists together to exchange reports, particularly on refugee issues.
George Driliga, station manager of "Morobo FM", together with journalists at a Cross-Border Network meeting in Kampala
Jane Angom smiles proudly. "We're now even getting requests from refugee settlements," she says. "They're asking whether we can organise debates there on current issues and broadcast them live." Angom is the station manager of "Speak FM" in Gulu, Uganda, and was recently elected as the new coordinator on the Ugandan side of the Cross-Border Network (CBN). "The CBN is a good concept," Angom says. "It makes it easier for us to spread vital information."
Weekly programs for and about refugees
"Speak FM" is a community radio with a strong focus on women and community development. Since June 2017 it has also been broadcasting a new 30 minute weekly program on refugee issues. "It started with contributions from our mobile reporters in the refugee settlements, who had been trained by DW Akademie," Angom explains. "We were then able to compile regular, weekly programs for and about refugees."
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
The Cross-Border Network is to help spread relevant information, including stories from the refugee camps, by sharing programs with other radio stations in northern Uganda and the southern region of South Sudan. "The information can be important for improving people's lives," Angom points out. "For instance, poor girls in this area have been taught how to make reusable sanitary pads. This information can be shared via CBN and the impact is much greater," she says.
The network idea: broadcasting across the border
George Driliga agrees. The station manager of Morobo FM from Morobo in South Sudan, had to flee his town in 2016. As the war intensified, Driliga, as well as the entire radio staff and their families, fled across the border. All the Morobo FM journalists are now scattered in various refugee settlements in Uganda and DR Congo, but with the help of mobile reporting, now produce a weekly program aired by a Ugandan radio station – with reception far into South Sudan, including their home town. The first program was aired April 5.
"The Cross Border Network means a lot to us," Driliga says. "The same issues are affecting our families in South Sudan as well as our brothers in Uganda. When CBN members share their programming, people in South Sudan and Uganda will know what is happening in the settlement camps," he says. "They won't need to rely on rumors anymore because they'll have proven facts." The mobile reporters from the refugee settlements help gather information which can then be distributed to all stations in the network. Driliga says the CBN has come at the right time.
Cooperation to be intensified
The CBN has "successfully been registered in Uganda," says Celia Kalaa, a lawyer accompanying the network's launch. A Memorandum of Understanding is to be signed by all members. With the legal issues settled, the CBN will be focusing on its main goal: supporting the program exchange between different network stations.
DW Akademie's projects in Uganda are supported by Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).