Development through Radio

Jennifer Sibanda

Development through Radio (DTR) is a unique rural radio project in Zimbabwe. Popularly known as the Radio Listeners' Clubs, the DTR project was developed to give rural people access to radio. Groups of women are trained to produce their own radio programmes.

Development through Radio (DTR) is a unique rural radio project in Zimbabwe. Popularly known as the Radio Listeners’ Clubs, the DTR project was developed to give rural people access to radio. Groups of women are trained to produce their own radio programmes.
This process demystifies the process of programme production and enables women to have a voice, and to set their own agenda. Radio is recognized as the most appropriate communications technology in Africa, since it is cheap and easy to operate, and reaches the majority of the population, especially women, who can listen to programmes while performing their domestic and other duties.
The project provides training for women, to encourage and develop their leadership skills so that they become more self-reliant. It also promotes interactions among communities so that they can exchange information and share experiences. The DTR project links rural people with policy makers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that can offer solutions and resources, respectively. Using participatory methods, the project encourages members to engage in dialogue and debate on critical issues that affect them and their communities. It also empowers them to become more assertive in the search for solutions to the problems they face. By sharing their experiences and ideas, the DTR clubs are strengthened, thus facilitating integrated development, which in turn benefits the communities as a whole. Although the project is targeted at women, during the programmes aired so far the women have talked about issues that affect all community members.
The project encourages and helps communities to mobilize their resources to launch income-generating activities. The DTR provides a platform via which they can to obtain information on how to start up and run sustainable projects, and expert advice on problems encountered by individual community groups. The DTR training programmes encourage women to become agents of change, and equip them with skills to help alleviate poverty, as well as to address issues such as the marginalization of and discrimination against women.
The DTR is a project of the Federation of African Media Women (FAMW). The FAMW encourages NGOs to use this unique platform to broadcast advocacy programmes on themes such as voter education, the effects of war on women and children, land rights, women’s rights, HIV/AIDS, women’s health, etc. Following the success of the DTR project, the FAMW has prompted many other African countries to adopt the approach. The project has now been replicated in Angola, Ghana, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Zambia.

Jennifer Sibanda is Director of the Federation of African Media Women (FAMW) in the Southern African Develeopment Community (SADC) based in Harare, Zimbabwe.

20 October 2002

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