Saturday, 03 Aug 2013

Despite challenges, a community radio station in Kenya provides valuable information on HIV

Kangema RANET FM is a local community radio station serving a rural community in Central Kenya. Before a workshop conducted by Internews, the journalists at the station thought their community was not ready to talk about HIV and AIDS. They said they didn't know anyone living with HIV in their community.

Then some of the workshop speakers turned out to be their neighbors.

The seven-day journalism workshop focused on HIV and stigma and made the journalists realize they had previously ignored the issue in their broadcasts.

By the end of the workshop, the journalists resolved to start two one-hour interactive programs which would be aired twice a day on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The first program was aired on July 2 and received positive feedback from the listeners. Several text messages commended the station for taking the initiative to educate the public on HIV in an effort to reduce stigma and misconceptions.

The HIV programs we started made us realize there was a great thirst for information on HIV related content, said one of the participants, Teresia Wanjiku.

The journalists are dedicated to producing the program despite the many challenges that Kangema FM faces in terms of resources. They lack a recording studio with good acoustics. They lack transport to go to the field to interact with the community and collect stories. The station is often off the air due to inconsistent electrical power and a lack of a reliable backup.

Internews provided Kangema FM with a desktop computer with audio editing facilities, two audio recorders and headphones. This, along with consistent mentoring, will make it possible to keep the new programs alive. The journalists at Kangema FM hope the programs will increase HIV testing and early treatment in their community.

Listen to the programs in Swahili.

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