And that’s a wrap on 2023. Despite the abundance of bad news of late, when we look back on the year, we feel immense pride in all that we accomplished along with our many partners and supporters.
After all, we reached 24.1 million regular listeners with our radio programs (4.8 million of whom improved their farming, health or nutrition practices). We supported a network of 1,332 radio stations in 38 countries with training and resources like guides, scripts and backgrounders. And we facilitated 1,188,977 mobile phone-based interactions between listeners and radio stations.
When we look back on 2023, these are the top 10 stories and moments that stand out to us.
1. We wrapped up a five-year project that saw 1.5 million people in West Africa — including 500,000 women — try new practices related to gender equality.
In March, we wrapped up Scaling Her Voice on Air, a five-year project that reached 6.7 million women and men farmers in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali and Senegal with information about agriculture and food security, gender equality and nutrition. The radio programs made a clear difference in communities: 52 per cent of listeners tried new agricultural and nutritional practices discussed during the programs, and 59 per cent of listeners tried new practices related to gender equality.
2. We sent six journalism students to Uganda and Ghana to report on rural communities’ Nature-based Solutions to climate change.
As part of our project about Nature-based Solutions to climate change, we sent six Carleton University journalism students and graduates to Uganda and Ghana to tell the stories of rural communities working with nature to adapt to climate change. The students wrote blog posts, captured photos and videos, and gathered audio content for a podcast that we’ll be launching in 2024.
3. We used radio as a tool for peacebuilding and promoting girls’ right to education in conflict-affected Mali.
The ongoing conflict and insecurity in Mali has made day-to-day life challenging for Malians and forced our staff and radio station partners to adapt their practices. Yet radio has never been more vital as a source of reliable information, an outlet for communication and dialogue between communities, and a way to advance development goals when traditional approaches may not be feasible.
4. We crunched the numbers from the third phase of our project promoting good agricultural practices for maize, rice, cassava and Irish potato in eight Nigerian states.
In September, we wrapped up the third phase of our Radio Enabling Green Innovation at Scale (REGIS) project, which included both agricultural radio programs and training through GIZ’s Green Innovation Centres for the Agriculture and Food Sector program. The project achieved impressive results: just over 10 million farmers listened to at least one episode. According to our endline evaluation, 67.4 per cent of cassava farmers who only had access to radio programs used an improved cassava variety, compared to 33.3 per cent of non-listeners.
5. We shared the stories of young Ghanaian women who are pursuing trades traditionally dominated by men.
In Ghana, women face gendered barriers to pursuing trades like construction, welding and electrical engineering. The INVEST project, led by WUSC, seeks to challenge the negative stereotypes associated with women’s participation in trades and technologies. At the same time, it aims to encourage young women to choose non-traditional trades — including through scholarships for studying a male-dominated trade.
6. We supported and trained young broadcasters in Mali to broadcast about sensitive topics like sexual and reproductive health.
The Hérè project aims to improve the well-being of women and girls and to strengthen the prevention of and response to gender-based violence in Mali. Because the target audience is teenagers and youth, we wanted to make sure that radio station teams reflected their audience. We’ve been successful in this regard: of the 36 broadcasters participating in the project, 26 are youth (in this case, ages 15 to 35). Though young broadcasters may need more support and training, working with youth develops their media skills, shines a spotlight on youth issues and encourages other young people to call in to radio programs.
7. Our country offices took action to green their operations.
As an NGO with offices in eight African countries and headquarters in Canada, our office operations have a significant impact on the planet. To mitigate this, we have established a global Green Team, with a network of environmental focal points working to make positive change in their respective offices.
8. We commissioned an original piece of music specifically for plants to demonstrate what we do for communities in Africa in a unique way.
In May, we launched an awareness campaign called PhotoSymphony, which demonstrated what we do for communities in Africa by using audio to promote plant growth in a different way. PhotoSymphony is an original piece of music made specifically for plants, written by acclaimed Canadian composer Andrew Forde. It combines different elements that are shown to improve the health of plants into one track.
9. We announced the winners of our annual awards for broadcasters.
Farm Radio International celebrates excellence in African radio broadcasting with our annual awards. The George Atkins Communication Award recognizes individual radio broadcasters for their outstanding commitment and contribution to food security and poverty reduction. The Liz Hughes Award for Her Farm Radio recognizes excellent radio programs that serve women listeners and advance gender equality. The award is given to the team of people who make the program happen.
10. We were once again named a Top 10 International Impact Charity by Charity Intelligence.
In 2023, Farm Radio International was once again named a Top 10 International Impact Charity by Charity Intelligence and on the organization’s list of the top 100 charities in Canada. We also maintained our five-star rating. Charity Intelligence’s star rating for charities is based on a charity’s results reporting, financial transparency, need for funding, cents to the cause and social impact rating. We were only able to achieve this recognition because of the trust awarded in us by our donors, funders and many partners. If you are among them, thank you!