Farmer Radio in Sub-Saharan Africa: A snapshot final report of the African Rural Radio Program Analysis (ARRPA) project

Ideally, international development efforts are driven by the needs and circumstances of the organizations and the people they intend to serve. Yet, once international development organizations have established a set of customized services and competencies, the projects they design and deliver tend to be driven more by what the organization knows how to do rather than the current needs and realities of the people they serve. The expression “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” neatly captures this quandary.

Farm Radio International (FRI) is no exception. Over the three-plus decades that FRI has been operating, it has developed expertise in generating written content in the form of radio scripts and other resources that it shares with radio stations in order to help them provide more effective radio programs to listening farmers. In order to ensure that our services are relevant and responsive to the everyday reality of partner radio broadcasters – rather than simply continuing to provide “tried and true” but inadequately examined services – FRI decided to launch a research project to deepen our understanding of the state of farm radio programming in sub-Saharan Africa. The African Rural Radio Program Analysis (ARRPA) was the result of this decision – and this report summarizes our findings.

Prior to ARRPA, little was known about farmer radio programming in Africa and the circumstances in which broadcasters operate. There was little documentation or analysis of the production practices used in farmer radio programs in Africa, and little knowledge of whether these programs served listeners’

As far as we know, this type of study has not been conducted before. It is hoped that rural broadcasters and Farm Radio International will be able to use the information and analysis from this project to improve their/our services, and that institutions and organizations that wish to work with rural radio stations in sub-Saharan Africa will use ARRPA’s findings as the basis for fruitful collaborations.

This is a full version of the summary report which is also available here.

Blythe McKay
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