Learning how to beep to vote in Burkina Faso

I’m Emma Bider, an intern with Farm Radio International in Burkina Faso. The month of June marked the beginning of a new Participatory Radio Campaign here that encourages farmers to produce orange-fleshed sweet potatoes.

The project was launched in Orodara, a town in the southwest of the country, where a local radio station will broadcast the show for the next six months. Three radio stations will be participating in the campaign.

The photo above depicts a group of producers listening to an explanation of FRI’s “beep-to-vote” technology.  After each week’s show, the broadcasters will have a chance to hear from their audience. They will ask a question and then offer a few possible ways listeners can answer the question, sharing telephone numbers over the air that correspond to each answer.

The listeners “beep” the answer they prefer — that is, they call the number then immediately hang up. In doing so, they won’t have to pay for a call because it will show up as a missed call,  but they still get to share their feedback and ideas with the radio station.

This is really useful for broadcasters because it gives them information on their listeners’ needs and opinions. In short, this is a simple and realistic way to ensure that listeners’ voices are heard!

To learn more about the project described here, made possible with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other partners, please visit the project page.

About the author  
Emma Bider recently returned to Canada from an internship with Farm Radio International in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, organized through the Centre for Media and Transitional Societies. She is a fourth year student in the Journalism and African Studies programs at Carleton University in Ottawa. She has interned at the CBC bureau in London, UK, and traveled across Europe while on exchange in the Netherlands.

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