Rural women's information network in Zabré - Burkina Faso
on the ground project
Through this project, a small community radio station and an internet connection were installed at the Pag La Yiri women’s association in the information-deprived area of Zabré in the east of Burkina Faso. A radio station was necessary because Zabré’s local population has difficulty receiving any radio programme at all, let alone one that broadcasts topics about their own region and in their own language.
Because national radio and television can hardly be received at all in the Zabré region (within a catchment area of 130 kilometres, there are no radio stations whatsoever), many people tune into the Anglophone radio stations that belong to their Ghanaian neighbours. Nevertheless, as many people only speak local languages such as Mòoré and Bissa, there is a very strong need for a local radio station in Zabré. Members of Pag La Yiri were trained to use radio equipment and conduct interviews. Radio Pag La Yiri started broadcasting in February 2009 in six different languages, with a radius of 85 kilometres.
The region of Zabré, in the southeast of Burkina Faso near the Ghanaian border, is an important agricultural region. The region lacks good transport infrastructure and communication infrastructure, which hampers its development. For the Pag La Yiri women’s association, communication from Zabré with the Pag La Yiri headquarters in Ouagadougou is possible via the telephone, but information products have to travel a long and difficult journey over a pothole-ridden road. These problems are common to all the organisations and institutions working in this area.
Setting up a community radio station helps overcome the information and communication gap between Zabré and the rural villagers, while the use of Internet and e-mail significantly reduces the amount of time it takes to send and receive information (such as the latest agricultural information or health newsletters) from its headquarters in Ouagadougou to the Zabré office. The project has a large capacity development component and specifically stimulates women to use ICTs.
Read more about IICD's Burkina Faso Country Programme.
The project started in 2005. The computer component took off rather quickly and the project team received extensive training in how to use the computer and multimedia equipment. For the radio broadcasts, however, it took a long time to obtain a broadcasting license. Pag La Yiri finally got its license in 2007. In 2009 the radio was finally launched. It is broadcasting seven days per week, in six local languages.
The project’s main objective is to broadcast information to boost the development of the region. The broadcasts start off by providing service announcements sent in by the population. These can range from when the baker is in town to when a specific event or market will take place.
Another way in which Pag La Yiri uses the radio station is by broadcasting market price information. Zabré is a rural area and many farmers are keen to hear about the value of their crops. Finally, the radio station is also helping to create health awareness. Since one of the activities of Pag la Yiri involves giving health information to its members, the radio collaborates with health institutions to raise awareness via the radio about malaria, cholera, family planning, vaccination days etc.
Eventually Pag La Yiri can link the internet to its radio broadcasts: not only will they be able to put their own shows online, they will also be able to make deals with radio stations in Ouagadougou as well. Stations can then send some of their programmes online to Pag La Yiri which will then broadcast them for the benefit of people living in Zabré. This ensures that people living remote and rural area will also hear the broadcasts from the city.
The direct beneficiaries of the project are the 11,000 members of the women’s organisation living in and around Zabré. Indirect beneficiaries include other people from the region (approximately 250,000), non-governmental organisations and associations that work in the area.
Radio programs with agricultural specialists in Zabré have enabled farmers to increase their agricultural output. Farmers
are sensitized on the management of granaries and how to store
agricultural products, permitting farmers not to sell products at
low prices at harvest. The many phone calls during the programs demonstrate that farmers are interested.
During the focus group meeting in 2010, a farmer testified: 'The program on agricultural techniques allowed me to limit the loss of my crop. For example, I heard that I had to plant early as the winter season would be short. "
Read more about IICD's approach towards Livelihoods.
One useful lesson learned by the project team was that using a mill engine instead of a generator for power reduces the amount of petrol and therefore the energy costs. Other lessons are related to the use of computers in rural areas. The absence of a regular internet connection makes it difficult to protect yourself against computer viruses, for instance. In order to make the computers sustainable, many services should be developed ranging from training, word processing and printing to internet connectivity .
The project team also recommends setting up a cooperative to be able to negotiate electricity use and prices with the Société Nationale d'électricité du Burkina (SONABEL), the national electricity provider. However, it is necessary to mobilise a minimum number of individuals and organisations to have a strong voice.
The Pag Yiri works through community workers in each village. The radio is a plus for them, because it provides information and facilitates their awareness raising work. The radio programs confirm the work of community workers and give them more weight. Health workers also use the radio to broadcast sensitisation sessions recorded in the villages. "They do not need to shout loudly to be heard ', says Aicha Cissé, project manager.
Also all other activities of Pag La Yiri in Zabré such as the bakery, soap factory, the recreation and lodging centre, the restaurant and pharmacy benefit from the radio through advertising.
Pag La Yiri is a dynamic women’s association that organises literacy programmes, agricultural information and training programmes, agricultural transformation services and pharmaceutical services for women and other groups working in the field of agriculture in the Zabré region.
The project is run entirely by Pag la Yiri staff members and volunteers. In Zabré, all members are producers themselves. There are no salaried administrative staff members, but active members are rewarded with modest sums whenever possible, and part of their agricultural work is taken over by other members when they spend a lot of time on the association’s work.
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