Journalists attend radio documentary training in Uganda for Nature-based Solutions project

Over the course of five days, journalists from Uganda, Zambia and Ghana participated in different workshops and exercises at the Eureka Palace Hotel in Kampala, Uganda.

From June 5 to June 9, Farm Radio’s volunteer radio documentary advisor Anita Elash led workshops focusing on how to create radio documentaries appealing to African listeners. Anita is an award-winning journalist from Canada who is living in Kampala for the next year and working with Farm Radio staff and broadcasters to share her skills.

Farm Radio International radio craft officers Isaac Mintah and Brenda Mugwisagye Murangi at the training.

Brenda Mugwisagye Murangi is a radio craft officer at Farm Radio International Uganda who participated in the training. She explained her reasoning behind attending the workshops.

“One of my responsibilities is to train broadcasters [and] to come up with quality programs,” she said.

“I had to take it so I could comfortably train the broadcasters on how to produce [and] make radio documentaries in a way that will bring out the intended messages.”

Brenda, an award-winning radio broadcaster herself, said she was unfamiliar with the documentary-making process. Many of our broadcasting partners — and Farm Radio International-supported programming — use talk show and interview formats on air.

Anita broke down each part of the documentary making process from finding sources to preparing for pre-interviews all the way up to putting the audio clips together to create a story.

Anita Elash delivers radio documentary training.

Radio craft officers from four countries attended the event, which was followed by a similar training for francophone officers in Cote d’Ivoire the following week. The aim is for our radio craft officers (usually former broadcasters, or radio experts themselves) to be able to comfortably train our partner broadcasters in the format.

The group learned how to develop a focus statement, different interviewing techniques and the importance of storyboarding among other valuable lessons.

The officers were able to put these tools to the test during practical activities which challenged them to find someone in the hotel to interview. This allowed them to practise the interview techniques and editing software they were working with.

Brenda said she has already implemented what she learned into her work. She is helping broadcasters develop content for an 11-episode series they are creating. The series consists of three documentaries, three discussions episodes and five episodes on how farmers can take climate action themselves.

These episodes will be produced by radio stations such as Radio Simba, Voice of Teso and Voice of Lango and will be broadcast across the country. The documentaries produced will also be a part of Farm Radio’s On-Air for Gender-Inclusive Nature-based Solutions project.

Brenda said one of the most valuable lessons she learned during the workshops was the importance of showing instead of telling.

“Someone listening should be able to pick your message, get what you’re trying to communicate without you having to tell it to them,” she said. She also spoke about the impact documentaries can have on people.

“Documentaries are one way to inspire change in our communities,” she said, perfectly summarizing why the workshops were so important.

About the project
The On-Air for Gender-Inclusive Nature-based Solutions project is a 5-year project led by Farm Radio International in partnership with the Government of Canada that will use high-impact radio programs to work with local communities in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda and Zambia to identify, share and support local Nature-based Solutions and amplify those solutions to a network of 3,500 broadcasters across 38 African countries so they can be duplicated across the continent.

About the author
Alex Dines volunteered as a journalism intern for Farm Radio International in Uganda in summer 2023 for our project about Nature-based Solutions to climate change.

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