Wednesday, 09 Oct 2013

Kenyan meteorological radio station expands focus to include reporting on HIV/AIDS

Nchangoma Ali has been reporting on weather and its effects on the community of Kwale, a small town at the tip of southeastern Kenya since 2011, when Kwale Ranet FM was first created by the meteorological department of the Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources.

However, there was a critical topic in the community that was becoming hard to ignore: the spread of HIV/AIDS. In Kwale, stigma is a huge problem for people living with HIV. In a deeply religious community, many in the town see HIV/AIDS as the victim’s fault, the result of behavior prohibited in the Quran. Stigma increases fear of testing, and contributes to the spreading of the virus.

When Internews offered a six-day workshop on reporting on Counseling and Testing as well as training on how to produce programs on HIV/AIDS, Ali jumped at the chance and was joined by nine other colleagues. The reporters said the training was an eye-opener, and they came to understand that regardless of age, social class or religion, nobody in the community was spared by the effects and impact of HIV.

Reporting on the topic was also not easy. The station does not have a recording studio. The team had to be creative in finding quiet places, such as an old broken-down vehicle nearby, or some bushes behind the station, to record their programs.

As a result of the six-day training, Ali produced a program titled “Counseling for Alcoholics Living with HIV/AIDS.” Her fellow trainees made good use of the desktop computer and two digital recorders donated by Internews and produced nine other programs for the community, including “Counseling and Testing for a Polygamous Family” and “Counseling for Muslims living with HIV.”

"I will have myself to blame if I no longer produce features with the skills that you have shared with us and the equipment you have given us," said trainee Amina Fakii, a journalist with the station.

Kwale Ranet FM has embraced health as a new expansion area in their programming as a result of Internews’ training and on-going mentorship. Trainees have their programs broadcast within a 20-mile radius in local languages including Kiswahili, Mijikenda, Digo and Duruma.

Internews’ project in Kwale is supported by the US Agency for International Development.

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