A road map to community involvement in development through radio
By Maxine Betteridge-Moes
A road sign, not remarkable, stands on a corner of a road in the Western Region of Ghana.
It’s yellow and black, and indicates a sharp curve in the road. Though not busy, cars whizz past the sign regularly.
This road sign wasn’t always here. In fact, it’s a relatively recent addition to this patch of road leading away from Daboase.
Nana Yaw Kumi, a broadcaster with Skyy Power FM, says he and other residents of the community were concerned that there would be accidents if nothing was done to fix the sign. Residents voiced concerns that drivers who were unfamiliar with the road would easily miss the curve, especially at night.
He says it’s thanks to a radio program the sign has now been fixed.
Communities have a say in local governance
The 12 week radio program, produced thanks to a project by Farm Radio International, WUSC (World University Service of Canada) and the Center for International Studies and Cooperation (CECI) focussed primarily on educating listeners about governance and accountability as well as the role of mining companies in development.
It took place in the Western Region of Ghana, an area that has seen heavy development in the mining sector of late and aimed to give listeners more of a say in the governance of their region.
Radio encourages citizens to speak up
Broadcasters invited authority figures and community members to speak out or to voice their views and concerns. It was through the radio program that the issue of this road sign came to light.
“Because of a radio program that we do, a farm radio program that we do a caller called in and he complained bitterly about that,” says Nana Yaw. “He actually told the official that he should fix it because if you don’t do it it will cause some kind of accident here on the road. So within that period one month later you saw that officials in the place have fixed it.”
The power of good radio
Nana Yaw says he’s proud to see the impact of his radio program.
“I think what you see are the results because all of what you do is for the community and if it had an impact on the people and officials also listened — to us you are happy if they are happy and you feel great. And I think what we have been doing on radio and what we have been saying on farm radio — I think officials are listening to it.
Called “Our Development,” the program provided a platform for mining communities in Ghana’s western region to speak out on air, and to learn about the roles and responsibilities of authority figures. It also aimed to to hold officials to account and ultimately to take action on pressing issues.
If the new road sign is any indicator, it was well on its way to doing just that.
That’s the power of good radio.
About the author
About the project
The West Africa Governance & Economic Sustainability in Extractive Areas (WAGES) project aims to break the vicious circle in which local communities, especially women and youth, are excluded from the benefits of mining investments. Through WAGES, World University Service of Canada (WUSC) and the Center for International Studies and Cooperation (CECI), work in three regions of Burkina Faso, Ghana and Guinea impacted by extractive industries.
With funding from Global Affairs Canada, the project works to empower local communities, and specifically integrate women and youth, to participate fully in local governance, economic opportunities and the sustainable development of these areas. The project collaborates with local and national governments, select mining companies, as well as small and medium-sized businesses and civil society organizations to attain those objectives. Farm Radio International was a partner in the project in Ghana in 2018.