1. Outreach Radio Programs
Apart from its impressive publication and dissemination record, FSS realized the need to devise a better strategy to reach out to the wider public. Hence, we launched radio outreach programs to disseminate our programs and activities to the wider community in different parts of the country.
The broad objectives of the radio programs are two-fold:
a) To provide to listeners valuable insights into social and community issues in the context of the country’s development priorities (through public discussions, interviews, and research findings), and thereby promote public awareness;
b) To involve the public in the debate on social and economic issues through interactive discussions so as to enhance the democratization of public policy making.
The radio programs make extensive use of FSS’ public dialogues, workshops, conferences as well as research findings and help to publicize FSS research outputs and policy dialogues. Apart from serving as a forum for the exchange of views on policy and development concerns by members of the local community, these programs also enhance the public-decision makers interface on key development concerns; promote a culture of open and informed debate on important policy issues; and advance an inclusive and participatory policy space.
The FM and MW Radio Programs
In line with its objectives to reach the wider public, FSS has been running an FM radio program since 2001. This program popularly known as ‘Dewel’ has been organized in collaboration with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) and WAAG Communications. It is broadcast within Addis Ababa and its vicinity covering a radius of 150 kms. Currently, ‘Dewel’ radio transmissions are on the air twice a week ---on Mondays and Fridays with broadcast times of 12.40 a.m – 1:00 p.m.
In 2002, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) sponsored an initial audience survey to assess the effectiveness and popularity of the radio broadcasts. The result indicated that the program had reached various sections of the society and had good prospect of achieving its objectives. Five years later, in 2007, a second and a more thorough audience survey was sponsored with the objective of assessing the program’s reach, effectiveness and impact; and this too had similar positive results as the first survey.
Side by side with the ‘Dewel’, starting in 2008, FSS has launched yet another similar radio program on the mid-wave (MW) channel of the National Service of Radio Ethiopia with an intent to reach a larger audience that will be involved in informed public discourse on development issues. The MW radio broadcasts were also sponsored by FES because of the success of the FM ‘Dewel’ as indicated by the findings of the audience surveys and with the intention of reaching a much wider audience. The transmissions have been running on Mondays from 11:00 a.m -11:30 a.m.
The two radio broadcasts have been featuring FSS activities and programs as well as a range of development issues, including poverty, employment, education, health, environment, gender, urban housing problems, energy, street children, Milleniem Development Goals (MDGs), ICT, etc.
The Jember Radio Broadcasts
The success of the ‘Dewel’ FM broadcasts and its sister MW program in and around Addis Ababa prompted FSS to launch the FM Debub ‘Jember’ radio broadcasts from Hawassa in Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR). The program started in 2006 following an agreement between FSS and the mass media agency of the Regional Government. It was financially supported by our Consortium Partners who also recommended replication in other parts of the country to help FSS increase its visibility and impact. FSS hopes to extend such public education services to other regions once the performance and effectiveness of the ‘Jember’ program is properly assessed.
The ‘Jember’ FM program focuses on poverty reduction and rural livelihoods, environmental protection and sustainable development, harmful traditional practices (HTPs), gender and other development and community issues. The broadcasts have attained a wide reach covering a radius area of more than 175 kms extending from Hawassa.
Following the success and popularity of the ‘Jember’ radio transmissions, FSS decided to up scale same. Accordingly, FSS opened a program office in Hawassa to be used by the two freelance journalists and the editor and also serve as a focal point for promoting and coordinating other FSS activities in the region. Equally important, the initiative assisted FSS not only in terms of reaching a wider audience but also in forming the nucleus for the first FSS branch outside Addis Ababa.
Some of the programs transmitted by ‘Jember’ in 2010 include:
- Environmental degradation in Alaba, (field report)
- The justice system in Alaba, traditional verses modern system of justice. (field report)
- A unique traditional system of protecting indigenous trees
- Internal migration and subsequent cultural disorientation in SNNPR.