Community Radios in Tanzania reaching where others can’t to save lives

IN Tanzania, Radio continues to be one of the most listened media outlets, especially in rural areas as it is not only cheaper to maintain but also mobile where one can even go with it wherever they want, be it at a local joint, farm, motorbikes boat or a coffee spot.

According to the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) report issued in November 2022, Tanzania has 218 registered radios and online radio stations, a number which is good enough to relay relevant information on diseases outbreak, farming, climate change and all information relevant to development.

Tanzania, like the rest of the countries in the world, was hit hard by Covid- 19 a situation that saw it embark in community sensitization on health protocols as well as vaccination.  The Sunday News managed to conduct an interview with Cosmas Lupoja, the Coordinator for the Network of Community Media in Tanzania (TADIO) to see what has been done so far to sensitize the community on COVID protocols and vaccination to save lives. Read on:

Q: Can you please explain a bit what TADIO is?

A: Tanzania Development Information Organization (TADIO) is a network of 42 community radio stations from all over Tanzania. Our member radio stations currently reach over 30 million listeners across Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar. Most of the covered areas are those not reached by the mainstream media. TADIO promotes the interests of rural radio stations and citizens’ access to information by advocacy work for better broadcasting policies, training and networking among radio stations, and by providing a channel for partners to reach rural audiences. Soon, we will also operate a community radio online platform, Radio TADIO, with news and live streams from rural radio stations.

Q: As a network of community radios what role did you and do you still play when it comes to disease outbreaks such as COVID?

A: Being the network with more than 200 journalists, TADIO in collaboration with UNESCO early 2020 conducted a number of capacity building sessions on how to write stories during pandemic, where we also distributed some protective equipment to all our community radios in 2020. In 2021 also with the support of IMS we capacitated our journalism with skills on how they should work to ensure that citizens get information which will encourage them to proceed with their daily activities amid COVID.

The network also is a member of the Risk Communication and Community Engagement Committee which is under PO-RALG whereby we are always active to disseminate information to the community when it comes to diseases outbreaks and currently we have a program with UNICEF dealing with them especially on the issue of promoting Covid-19 vaccination nation wise.  We also have Internews-Tanzania as one of the partners supporting this agenda in Simiyu region.

Q: COVID 19 came with a lot of myths especially when it came to vaccinations? What role has the network and/or its member radio stations played to address this challenge?

A: TADIO in cooperation with the Ministry of Health in Tanzania and international partners prepared a series of radio programmes about the coronavirus and how to prevent its spread. These series were known “Know the facts about Corona ” and were prepared early 2020 and are still available on our website. www.tadio.co.tz, where they played a big role to educate the community about the pandemic and when it comes to the importance of taking vaccines.

Q: What notable achievements have you been able to record when it comes to COVID 19 if any?

A:The community appreciates the contribution of our work to their self- development.  This has led to the increase of community radios which apply for membership to join the network

Q: Did TADIO or any of its member radio stations receive any support to create community sensitization on COVID 19 if so from whom?

A:Yes, since the rise of the pandemic our members have been receiving support from different partners, including a subsidy for the production of radio programmes, protective gears, capacity building on how to report the pandemic and others.   Partners who have been providing us the support include; UNESCO, UNICEF, IMS, IDEM, MICT, Internews-Tanzania, The Open University of Tanzania as well as the National Bureau of Statistics.

Q: It is reported that the Covid protocol, especially handwashing has seen Tanzania do away with Cholera and other waterborne diseases, any plans for TADIO and its member radio stations to continue with public education?

A: As we speak, all our radio member stations still promote the hand washing campaign and sensitize the community on the importance of prevention against emerging diseases. We work closely with our partners who are directly responsible for the sector to ensure that we receive appropriate and useful information to deliver to the community for their well-being as well as their self – development.

Q: What more should we expect from TADIO and its member radio stations?

A:Our goal is to expand the network to ensure that at least we cover the whole population of our country for the citizens to enjoy their right to access timely information for their self- development.

 

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