In most of Africa, radio continues to be the primary means of mass-communication. It is a source of information for many people, especially those who live in more remote, rural locations. It also provides entertainment and can be a platform for discussing relevant pressing societal issues as well as broadcasting Early Warning Systems such as the whereabouts of swarms of desert locusts, for example, that devastated crops in southern Africa in early 2021. More than a tool to share information, however, radio can play an important role in community-building and fostering positive change.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made the importance of radio in southern Africa particularly clear. In a context where, for many rural communities, access to the Internet is limited, radio has allowed students to keep up with their studies. It has highlighted the fact that broadcasts can reach across borders and become a valuable source of information where reliable news is scarce.
Now, radio can play a role in modern conservation.
Peace Parks Foundation hopes to engage East Star Radio, a station in Zambia’s Simalaha Community Conservancy, to help communicate with rural households that are unreachable by other media. In particular, the conservation agriculture programme which promotes eco-friendly farming techniques, that currently relies on training Conservancy Assistants (like Brian Malumbo) to visit and train farmers, could significantly increase its reach, without needing extra bodies to do the job.
Important conservation messages could also be shared with the audience, bringing to light issues such as deforestation and its impact on the future of people living in the area. Fast disappearing natural forests, like those in Zambia, are in fact the Earth’s lungs on which all of humankind depend on for survival, making them vitally important to protect. So working with local establishments, such as East Star Radio is just one of the ways in which a bridge is built between communities living in protected landscapes and the conservation organisations dedicated to the protection of these areas for the benefit of all.
Peace Parks Foundation has a healthy, long-standing relationship with the people of the Simalaha Community Conservancy and work with them to develop programmes that improve their livelihoods while protecting the natural environment. It is a community-led approach in which the people decide what is best and guides the support offered by Peace Parks.
Working with East Star Radio is exciting for the Peace Parks team who are big fans of DJ Gucci and the rest of the broadcasting crew, so when next in the Simalaha Community Conservancy, tune in to 107.7 FM to listen in.