Celebrating the power of radio to scale sustainably

Celebrating the power of radio to scale sustainabl

Watch our webinar to explore the challenges and successes of scale and sustainability with ICT-enabled projects.

At Farm Radio International, our work requires great partnerships to get great results. We partner with radio stations, key stakeholder groups, and knowledge experts to make informative and entertaining interactive radio programs. These programs share agricultural knowledge and amplify the voices of listeners so rural communities can be empowered in their own development.

A key partner in our work is local extension services, who know their farmers and their needs. But we know that many extension services are overextended. There are often simply too few extension workers and it can be difficult for them to adapt to emerging crises or new research. But other face-to-face methods have new costs that have proven difficult to meet.

This is the power of radio: huge reach, at a low cost. Sharing good information and amplifying voices from the community.

As we work with our radio partners, we’re aiming for two ambitious goals: scale and sustainability. As a result, we’re always asking ourselves, how does ICT enable us to scale development results? And how can we be sure these results will be sustainable long after our project ends?

We’re sure many of you face the same questions.

Farm Radio has clear evidence that our models and approaches enable scale, not just of quality information and communication services, but also for “distance extension” and for development outcomes, including the uptake of good agriculture and nutrition practices.

We know radio has widespread reach, helping innovations scale up to millions of listeners. In Ghana, our Achieving Impact at Scale project worked with six radio stations, providing 2.7 million Ghanaians with access to the radio program. An estimated 486,000 listened and 161,000 practiced one of the recommendations made on air.

But scale can go beyond reach.

In Mali, we’ve seen programs broadcast to specific communities contribute significantly to women farmers’ knowledge — suggesting “deep” scale with smaller geographies. Similarly, our work on girl child education in the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps in Kenya has shown how radio can deepen interactions with geographically-defined populations. And our work on forest landscape restoration with IUCN in Uganda has provided a great example of how radio can allow partners to deepen their engagement with communities on important issues.

ICTs help radio scale in important ways, allowing beneficiaries to participate in the process. They also strengthen interactions, linkages and networks, making a collaborative platform.

We envision a sustainable, ICT-enabled extension service — in the form of agricultural radio programming that integrates with other ICTs. How do we get there?

Last week we were happy to have colleagues from our Ghana and Malawi offices join us to present key insights into the issues of scale and sustainability in ICT-enabled projects. We were also thrilled to be joined by our partners from Grameen Foundation who shared their mounting evidence for viable business cases in this area. Want to know more? We recorded the whole thing!

Many of the insights shared in this webinar were made possible with funding from Global Affairs Canada and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) under the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund.

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