It’s a wonderful reunion with the amazing staff from Radio Morobo FM. After the outbreak of violence in there home in the southwestern tip of South Sudan they fled to Uganda and DR Congo. The station was partly looted, many homes destroyed and a mass flight started. The people experienced violence, rape and a difficult flight. They are scattered in camps – each of them with up to 100.000 refugees. Now we are relocating the staff in these camps with a map to continue the work in exile and probably build the first virtual newsroom in Africa – maybe even ahead of Europe, the US and Asia. They are unpaid at the moment but 100% dedicated and motivated.
Radio Morobo FM is a community radio in which I conducted a training in January 2016 we were glad to see a positive outcome and a complete change of the station. Management, program planning, preparation, on air w
ork and most of all inclusion of the community improved. The idea of citizen participation to improve livelihoods grew and the reporters were addressing everyday topics like hygiene, health, education, agricultures, equality and others. From their own observation a positive impact of the radios work on the life in the community has been reported.
Now violence hit the community and the radio needed to be shut down. Parts of the stations equipment has been looted, others tried to be saved at police stations and few was rescued to Uganda.
So now, we meet in Arua in northern Uganda and discuss the way forward. These people got so many trainings by many organizations and know a lot about journalism und how to be a radio journalist. They know all the theoretic stuff. But Radio Morobo is an example for me how easy #mediadev forgets the institutional side of the work. Responsibilities, rundowns, editorial meetings and most of all: planning. It all needs to come from the people. And if they don’t have this it doesn’t matter how many trainings they get, the station will not improve.
The community journalists in Morobo did well. They reinvented the newsroom. Literally dedusted the offices, counted cables and recorders and started all new. The community learned about health issue, how to dig toilets, got agricultural tips, gender questions were raised and much more. And now suddenly they are communicating for peace rather than for development.
So we started to relocate the staff with the help of a map. Secured phone numbers and possibilities to report from the locations they are. But new challenges arise: A southsudanese journalist without ID and press card is raising suspicions at ugandan government institutions. How can we transport material and how can we compile it? The much praised idea of mobile reporting is difficult as well. New technologies. They are in camps many hours away from each other. Internet is weak and still: How to compile the whole show.
When we started this one week workshop people were tired, scared and uncertain. In the end they produced a 30-minutes program with the little they have and look forward to new developments.
Let’s hope we find a way to sustain the work in exile and to distribute the valuable program in northern Uganda and South Sudan.
Check out the Vine about drawing the map: