SLOWLY she emerges from the front door with so much humility, making one feel at ease and comfort and for a while there I feel as if I have known her for years owing to her name being so popular in the district.
Her good track record and stance to address gender-based violence (GBV) and inheritance rights in the district is what stands out and well just to inform you, the humble lady is none other than Bunda District Commissioner Lydia Bupilipili, who has made a name for herself when it comes to addressing social issues in her district.
As we sat down, I began with the most burning question on progress in curbing GBV and female genital mutilation (FGM) in the district.
Ms Bupilipili begins by admitting that a lot of what she will mention as achievements should also be attributed not only to her office, but also her most important partner, Mazingira Community Radio, a local station in the area which has for years enjoyed support from Unesco under its SDC Project.
“I use Mazingira FM whenever I need to say anything to community members to save resources, and time and implement things on time, be good or making a stance move on inheritance rights or to address GBV and FGM where incidents have gone down. I am now working to address information that mothers have now turned into mutilating girl infants where I have given directives to health officers to check infants during the clinics. If you want community members to implement well, they have to get information. Verbal communication is vital to reach people on time,” stressed Ms Bupilipili.
The DC is so passionate about Mazingira Community Radio that she mentions the names of radio anchors and their programmes as if she were an editor for the station.
Mazingira FM has not only been able to address GBV, but has also been campaigning for safe menstruation for school girls in the district where according to its station manager Ally Nyamkinda in 2020, its journalists investigated to establish the root cause of truancy among schoolgirls and found out that several girls were missing classes during their menstruation period because they lacked sanitary towels.
“Mazingira Radio Station organised a fundraising event where well-wishers contributed and enabled 200 secondary schoolgirls to get sanitary towels during the launch,” said Mr Nyamkinda.
The DC said the radio through its campaign to mobilise stakeholders had brought impact as other stakeholders such as an NGO, Hedhi Salama, and CRDB Bank had joined the bandwagon to contribute for the cause.
Mazingira has not been able to succeed by itself, but through a well-trained team of journalists such as Ms Teresia Thomas, who with support from Unesco, has been able to travel as far as South Africa to learn various tips that will help her prepare quality radio programmes to address GBV, FGM and girls’ rights to education.
Ms Thomas admits that the various capacity building sessions on sexual reproductive health, FGM, GBV and investigative journalism by Unesco have seen her become a better person where she can now pursue stories in these issues with a sharper eye than was the case before.
It is an undisputable fact that community radios play a great role to address all harmful traditional customs in our country. Findings in the Lake Zone show that most district leaders appreciate the role of community radios as they reach out to rural areas.
Perhaps it is about time that all local leaders turned their eyes to local radios to reach more people at affordable costs. A little support in terms of adverts, programmes and financial support would not hurt as at the end of the day, every little cent counts and would help communities to be reached and be informed about their development.
• The author is a journalist, media trainer, editor, interpreter, moderator and translator.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgemail@example.com or +255-715-286-671.