Communicating with Radio: What Do We Know? Findings from selected rural radio effectiveness evaluations

Radio does not grow food, nor does it work the fields. As a communication tool ,however, radio has proven its power to improve farmers’ decision-making by providing them with relevant information and sharpening their analytical perspectives as they undertake decisions that lead to improved farm management, yields, nutrition and food security. This study presents selected case studies that demonstrate how radio has been employed to improve decision-making in agricultural, health and development issues. Building on such cases, the discussion attempts to locate how AFRRI might best design its farm radio campaigns.

The challenge for agricultural communicators today is to develop and package messages and content that appeal to their target audiences—the farming constituencies. Farm broadcasters need to develop relevant content, but they also need to be concerned about whether or not farmers will listen to their programs. The challenge for AFRRI therefore goes beyond content generation; the Initiative must consider radio audience development mechanisms in the face of a changing media environment. A note about the case studies This report is a critical review of 17 case studies that assess the effectiveness of rural radio. The studies, which are based on experiences in eight different countries, are not the only ones that have attempted to establish a link between radio-for-development strategies and the diffusion of better practices in agricultural and rural development, but they are among the most relevant. There are relatively few studies that address these issues; those reviewed here were not selected at random, but were chosen because they were available, had been conducted using defined research methods, and focused on the impact of farm and development radio in promoting sustainable livelihoods, communities and the environment.

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Ian Pringle
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