RLP: interactive radio in Papua New Guinea
MetadataShow full item record
CTA. 2003. RLP: interactive radio in Papua New Guinea. ICT Update Issue 14. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57640
by Douglas Bell/Micael Olsson Douglas Bell and Micael Olsson explain how interactive radio programmes are helping tribes to save the rainforest and support agriculture in Papua New Guinea.
In the village of Itokama, in the fertile Oro Province of eastern Papua New Guinea, representatives of a dozen or so local clans have gathered for a strategy meeting. But this is no ordinary meeting. They have come to discuss how to manage and conserve their part of the rainforest, which is under threat from loggers and land developers. The members of this tribal ´land group´ are gathered around a radio, listening attentively to a programme in Pidgin English. The programme and meeting´s guiding principle is ´kuae-fie-nami´ (´speak and understand each other´), meaning that the answers to land development problems lie in dialogue rather than in one-way initiatives. Papua New Guinea´s land groups have a long tradition of participating in local and regional consensus-building forums. This form of self-governance, an outstanding example of democracy at work, is key to their survival. Today, the land groups are faced with critical decisions about how to manage their land and balance cash crop and food production with sustainable conservation practices because their forests are under serious threat. About 6 million hectares, or 40% of the country´s forested area, have been designated as potential logging tracts. Each year, some 180,000 hectares are logged, causing irreversible damage to the forest cover. Tribal land groups legally own the land on which they live, and outside developers must gain prior consent from them for any development plans. However, many landowners have been enticed by the money offered by large corporations in exchange for logging rights. The growing population and the need for income are pushing tribal peoples to expand their food and cash crop production, and younger generations are turning away from traditional forest conservation values and practices. Multichannel Learning At this critical juncture, the Education Development Center (EDC) and the NGO Partners with Melanesians (PwM) have launched the Rainforest Literacy Project for villagers on the Managalas Plateau in Oro Province. Funded by the Norwegian Rainforest Foundation, the initiative addresses the local need for land management skills and informed land management decisions. The project brings critical technical information and skills-building support to local farmers through an innovative, ICT-supported learning approach called Multichannel Learning. Based on research that shows that people learn in various ways and through various means, and that the chances for successful learning are improved when more than one learning channel is used, Multichannel Learning reinforces its messages over and over through multiple media and in different settings. The approach therefore avoids the pitfalls encountered in earlier efforts to inform local farmers, which relied too heavily on extension workers with only a limited understanding, and printed materials that the marginally literate people found too difficult to follow. At the core of the project is a series of ´interactive radio instruction´ programmes that are broadcast during scheduled meetings of the land group forum. In an entertaining serial drama, actors portray colourful characters representing a variety of viewpoints on land development, forest conservation, family planning and other issues. Points of audience participation are built into the radio scripts - listeners are invited to answer questions posed by the actors. Most importantly, the broadcasts serve as launching points for facilitated discussions. The content of the radio programmes is repeated and reinforced in a variety of printed materials. These use simple vocabulary, with clear explanations and plenty of graphic symbols and illustrations that can be understood by the semi-literate audience. The materials are also distributed to students in schools, women´s groups, and literacy and reading clubs. Faced with the growing external and internal pressures to clear the precious rainforest, the land groups need to be able to make informed, well-planned land management decisions. The Rainforest Literacy Project complements traditional values of forest conservation with contemporary land management information and techniques. It does so within the existing system of community self-governance and utilizes Multichannel Learning to maximize its effectiveness. This can only help the land groups of Papua New Guinea to make informed decisions and take effective action to ensure the survival of the forest for future generations. mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org Douglas Bell and mailto:email@example.com Micael Olsson are members of EDC´s Community Learning Systems team. For more information, visit the http://main.edc.org/mosaic/Mosaic2/building.asp EDC website.