Six radio stations in CAR back on air to foster peace
The RELSUDE-project in Central African Republic (CAR) has come to an end, with great results. Six radio stations have been rebuilt and are back on air, which means that they can continue to fulfill their role as peace builders and stimulators of dialogue in local communities.
The RELSUDE-project was set up three years ago by a consortium of Free Press Unlimited, ACTED, OXFAM, CONCERN, COOPI and IMPACT, funded by the EU Bêkou Trust Fund. The aim was to promote peace by strengthening the role of media as a catalyst for conflict prevention, rehabilitation, reconciliation and stabilisation.
The impact of conflict
The South Eastern CAR is the country’s most unstable and conflicted region. That is why the RELSUDE-project has re-establish six community radio stations in this area specifically. These radio stations were all created by the communities themselves and were operative for several years before the conflicts forced them off the air. Around 900,000 people were then deprived of essential information about what is going on in their region.
Conflict breaks communities. The villages where the radio stations are situated have been plagued by violence; many people have fled their homes to relocate elsewhere. This is devastating for local communities, where people build meaningful relationships and rely on each other.
To restore social cohesion, the RELSUDE-project supported the community radio stations to reclaim their connecting role in the region. By promoting dialogue, proving and disproving rumours, and by broadcasting relevant, fact-based information, they can play a crucial part in fostering peace and stability in their region.
Besides the re-establishment of the stations and provision of technical equipment, the project also trained and coached the operators in journalistic, technical and ethical skills. The practical training took place at the radio stations themselves, and took the different context of each radio station into consideration. The training also focused on management skills, to ensure the future sustainability of the stations.
Radio Beressa, serving the population again
Radio Beressa is one of the six radio stations that were rehabilitated as part of the RELSUDE-project. It is located in the town Zémio, on the top of a hill. It was destroyed during a conflict in the region in 2018.
Germain and Paterne, presenters from Radio Beressa, explain what the station means to the community: “The radio is very popular with the population, it is a radio for everyone. It allows people to be informed of what is happening in the country and in their locality, it relays information up to 70 kilometres beyond Zémio. And we also give the floor to the listeners.”
In 2021, the radio station was rebuild and back on air. It could again serve the local population by broadcasting dozens of programmes 7 days a week. It employs 22 people on a voluntary basis and benefits more than 30,000 people.