Farmers' Voice Radio for flood forecasting in Uganda
Updated: Dec 19, 2019
Following the launch of the University of Reading’s NIMFRU project (National-scale Impact-based Forecasting of Flood Risk in Uganda) in November 2018, in August this year Hannah D was back in Uganda to deliver training on the Farmers' Voice Radio methodology to project partners ECOTRUST, the Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA), ETOP FM and extension officers from Katakwi District.
At the inaugural NIMFRU meeting, partners jointly developed the project vision of ‘no loss of life or livelihoods due to flooding in Uganda’. This could not be timelier as Uganda was recently in the headlines once again after terrible flash floods and landslides hit the east of the country, not far from the project pilot site of Katakwi, leading to at least six deaths, multiple injuries and the displacement of hundreds of households.
The NIMFRU project aims to achieve its vision by developing a livelihoods-based flood forecasting system, which will deliver the right information to the right people at the right time to enable appropriate preparation for and response to extreme weather events. LYF’s Farmers' Voice Radio is one of the key communications platforms that will be used to deliver this information into the right hands (or ears!), with a listener group made up of 12 farmers drawn from three target communities generating content for weekly radio programmes to be broadcast on the number one Ateso language radio station in the area, ETOP FM.
In the workshop, the listener group leaders came together with project partners to learn and practice the skills involved in putting together an informative and engaging farmer radio programme that both raises the voices of small-scale farmers and delivers the knowledge they need to make informed livelihood decisions. The workshop participants also agreed targets for the radio programmes based on farmers’ most significant flood-related vulnerabilities, and developed six months of radio programme content that aims to achieve these targets, which are to:
· Increase crop and livestock productivity and quality
· Conserve natural resources (including water)
· Improve health and nutrition
· Promote viable alternative livelihoods
The final day of the meeting took place in Agule community in Magoro sub-county, one of the areas most regularly and badly affected by flooding in Katakwi District. Local farmers report losing up to 100% of their annual crops each year due to flooding, as well as livestock and even family members due to outbreaks of waterborne disease. A practice listener group session was held, with farmers and extension officers enthusiastically contributing advice and examples of adaptation measures that had helped them to withstand the effects of flooding in the past. Finally, listener group members were each presented with a solar-powered, wind-up radio to enable them and their neighbours to listen to the radio programmes each week.
After the training we were delighted to receive this message from Justus, one of the ETOP FM radio presenters:
“It is wonderful sitting under you facilitating. It takes great courage, devotion and love to develop and change society beginning with a single community to uplift their livelihoods through information sharing. You are sowing a transformation seed for generations to come.”
We love Farmers' Voice Radio and the farmers and communities we work with. We don’t do this for the recognition, but it was really wonderful and encouraging to receive such a warm message.
The Farmers' Voice Radio activities kicked off properly in the week of 16th September with the first Listener Group meetings and associated Farmer Agri-Met Village Advisory Clinics taking place in the three target communities. The radio programmes, which the farmers have named ‘Acautu Akoriok’ or ‘Farmers See the Light’ in local language Ateso, will be broadcast weekly on ETOP FM on Mondays at 10.40am and Sundays at 2.00pm Uganda time. You can listen online here: www.mixlr.com/etopfm/.