DR Congo is the largest country in Central Africa and as large as Western Europe. It has few hardened roads and its sandy roads are impassable in the rainy season. Inhabitants of Bandundu, a province in the west of the country, have to rely on the radio for news and information and contact with other parts of the country. But for a radio station it is important to have knowledge and equipment to be able to broadcast. Free Press Unlimited is helping nine local radio stations to carry out improvements so that all the inhabitants of the remote and poor Bandundu region have access to a network of reliable news and information.

The first steps

By providing palm oil generators Free Press Unlimited ensures that the radio stations have electricity; essential for making and transmitting programs. The supply of equipment comes with technical training so that the quality of the programs improves and the broadcasts can reach more people. The radio stations are also provided with training in how to generate income so that they can continue to broadcast in the future. The trainers have encouraged the radio stations to be a reflection of the province and consequently an increasing number of women are working for the radio stations.

“Before the start of this project, I was the only female voice to be heard on this station. That there are now three female radio journalists represents a big step towards the emancipation of women. Highlighting equality is very important in this region where tradition rules and women’s rights is a sensitive issue,” says Sister Espérance Luwanda of Radio Ntemo.

On air

The radio station staff is taught new journalistic skills and as a result are better able to involve their audience with their broadcasts. Small communities who previously had no voice are now able to demand attention for problems in the region. And now that more people listen to the broadcasts, the regional administration makes more frequent use of the radio. Urbain Nzundu Na-Kiès, an official of Idiofa Territory states: “The broadcasts enable us to receive information from inhabitants in remote areas and we can also reach them. We can use the radio to broadcast missing child alerts. And if, for example, a road is closed, we can warn the road users and the local authorities.”

How radio leads to more chickens

For education too, practically the only way to reach the inaccessible province of Bandandu is by radio. This is the reason why various information programs are broadcast on the radio. These programs deal with different subjects such as: education, health and agriculture. This information allows people to hear about new technical developments so that they can learn for example which season is best for growing vegetables and also how best to keep and look after their chickens.

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