Workshop on STI and rural radio services: a real priority not just a need
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CTA. 1989. Workshop on STI and rural radio services: a real priority not just a need. Spore 22. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/45099
Workshop on STI and rural radio services. rural broadcasters from 18 ACP countries in the capital city of Burkina Faso from May 15 to 18 1989
In Western Samoa, programmes for farmers are relayed from island to island by two telecommunications satellites. In Senegal, rural radio has been transmitting in seven languages for the last 20 years, while in the Central African Republic rural radio is just starting and in Djibouti, a project should begin soon. In Mauritania, an important rural radio project is coming to an end for lack of funds and in Burkina Faso, the decentralization of radio services is making progress despite some difficulties. With so many different circumstances, is it possible to find a common denominator for Rural Radio in ACP countries? Rural radio services, sensu stricto, that are decentralized, financially and technically self-sufficient, that transmit only for farmers in their own language and that provide for all their information and entertainment needs, are almost unheard of in ACP countries. One common problem is the lack of resources: both the material means to record and broadcast, as well as the logistic means to obtain information from the rural environment where enthusiastic reporters need and wish to work. In collaboration with CIERRO (Centre Interaficain d'etudes en radio rurale de Ougadougou) and GRET (Groupe de recherches et d'echanges technologiques) in Paris, CTA gathered rural broadcasters from 18 ACP countries in the capital city of Burkina Faso from May 15 to 18 1989. The aim of the workshop was to identify more clearly the constraints to radio broadcasting of scientific and technical information (STI) and at setting up a programme of action. According to the reports by the broadcasters during the workshop, people working in rural radio lack access to scientific and technical information despite all the meetings and reports that are published and that should be available.National documentation centres are inaccessible, communication with the national scientific and technical community is inefficient and specialized books and magazines are rare in the libraries. The main sources of scientific and technical information for rural radio are the rural areas. Frequently, broadcasters are left to work as best they can without assistance or encouragement; too often they are disregarded and, more seriously, they feel and become isolated. Those who still have the means to go to the field have at least the possibility of gathering firsthand information and knowledge from the farmers. But even if their audience is their chief source of information, rural radio broadcasters are eager for contact with the outside world. But here again they often meet with silence. At the workshop, the representatives of 18 countries unanimously indicated that, despite the existence of several international information services, their needs are far from being satisfied. Improved access to sources of information is in fact at the top of the list in the final resolutions. With limited access to the field, and cut off from the world of research, rural radio services are reduced to play one role: to act as a conveyor belt to transmit agricultural services to farmers. This task, on its own, seems insufficient to them. Reporters are ready to participate in campaigns to raise public awareness of major issues - environment, hygiene, training, etc - and even to contribute to the dissemination of technical information produced by agricultural services. Militant in the cause of the people they serve and that of development, they would like to be complete reporters, and to provide true, up-to-date, current and useful information. Refresher courses, to keep rural broadcasters up to date, would be very beneficial. Even though in one of the resolutions participants asked for radios to be provided more cheaply to farmers to improve their impact, reporters know that it is the content of their programmes that will attract listeners. However, to improve the content of their broadcasts, they have to break out of their isolation. This is why they have overwhelmingly requested to be kept in touch with current scientific, technical and economic progress in the world. They would like to receive in good time despatches on product prices and markets, weather forecasts and warnings about pests and to exchange their reports and their experience with colleagues in other countries. Among the important final resolutions, the participants asked for a system for the exchange of programmes between rural radio services to be set up. South-South and North-South, the information circuits on 'Field', 'Lab', 'Magnetic discs' end 'Hard Copy' should be multiplied and operate more freely. In industrial countries, journalism is the art of making choices. In developing countries, it is the art of making do. Before the meeting, CTA believed a need existed. It is now aware that this is a priority and will tackle it in collaboration with ail concerned by this problem.