Sakina Majawa, winner of the 2023 George Atkins Communication Award

Sakina Majawa’s journey towards broadcasting started 15 years ago when she worked at the Agricultural Communications Branch of the Malawian Ministry of Agriculture. There, she learned about the agriculture calendar, farmers’ groups and the role of farmer programs in communicating vital information. She later joined the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation because she wanted to provide a platform to the voiceless, influence duty-bearers to fulfil their responsibilities and help transform her community. Today, Sakina works for Chanco Community Radio in Malawi as a producer and presenter.

Sakina says her strength is mobilizing farmers, and her passion is continuous learning. To mobilize farmers, she regularly meets with farmers’ groups and ensures that they feel comfortable to talk freely about the issues that are important to them on her programs. Many farmers have joined listening groups thanks to Sakina, and through this channel, they provide feedback to improve her programming.

“The farmer should be the number one person. The farmer should be the priority for everyone.”

Sakina Majawa, winner, 2023 George Atkins Communication Award

Sakina says that the major challenge facing her listeners is climate change. She notes that Chanco Community Radio is in the Lake Chilwa basin, which is vulnerable to climate change. During droughts and floods, communities in the basin struggle to harvest enough food and encounter flash floods that wash away their crops and animals.

To address these issues, Sakina produces and presents three farmer programs. The first, Zaulimi (Agricultural issues), discusses the local agricultural calendar and focuses on what farmers need to work on during planting or harvesting periods.

The second program, Imvani za Kumudzi (The village voice), focuses on climate change and adaptation measures such as climate-smart agriculture. This program is produced in collaboration with listening group members trained to record interviews about climate change with farmers in their communities. Sakina edits these clips and writes a script to accompany them.

Finally, Ulimi ndi Nyengo (Farming and weather) presents the weekly weather forecast created by the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services and its implications for farming activities.

Sakina includes farmers’ voices in her programs by playing vox pops, accepting calls and reading SMS messages on air. She says it’s important for farmers to tell their own stories and makes sure that youth and women get an equal say. To keep her programs interesting, Sakina uses nature sounds, songs sung by listeners in local languages, and a variety of formats, including mini-dramas, poems, panel discussions and interviews.

In addition to listening groups, Sakina gets feedback from listeners through call-in programs. She is serious about feedback, saying that she used it to create—and now improve—her programs. She says everything from the names of her programs to the broadcast times were chosen by listeners.

Sakina has enjoyed many years of partnership with FRI. Over this period, she has received training online and in-person, including for impact programming, Uliza Poll, resource orientations and VOICES. She has also won several local awards for “green agriculture.”

Watch an interview with Sakina during our 2023 World Radio Day celebration here.

This story was originally published in Barza Wire, Farm Radio International’s newswire for African farm broadcasters. The George Atkins Communication Award recognizes a radio broadcaster who serves their rural audience and is a committed partner of Farm Radio International.

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