Harare, Zimbabwe – Access to information in rural Zimbabwe is very limited. As a result, citizens lack the information and knowledge they need to participate in public life and improve their lives and livelihoods.
But the Community Radio of Harare (CORAH) is making a difference with innovative approaches to reach audiences in a context where community radio stations continue to be denied broadcasting licenses by the government. Because of these restrictions, CORAH is finding alternative ways to fulfil the mandate of community radio broadcasting to serve geographic communities and community interests.
In December 2014, CORAH signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust (ZIMCET) to produce radio programmes aimed at raising awareness of human rights and community-based issues. The Royal Netherlands Embassy (RNE) in partnership with Hivos currently supports ZIMCET on a project entitled: “Building a Sustainable Human Rights Culture in Zimbabwe.”
To date, CORAH has produced radio programmes which are recorded on CD for distribution to citizens. The initiative is currently facilitating access to information for approximately 10,000 people in Goromonzi, a rural area located in the eastern part of Zimbabwe.
Michelle Duma, ZIMCET’s Programmes Coordinator, said the type of community radio that CORAH produces is playing a significant role in providing an alternative source of information to citizens.
The radio programmes raise awareness around the constitutionally provided commissions that support democracy and human rights, in particular, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission and the Human Rights Commission.
The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) seeks to address past conflicts to ensure that lasting peace is achieved in Zimbabwe, while the Human Rights Commission’s main mandate is to protect, promote and enforce human rights.
“As people get to express themselves, issues of poverty, agriculture, gender inequality, education, social problems among others also emerge. This creates an enabling environment for constructive dialoguing between duty bearers and rights holders,” said Duma.
Besides the alternative radio programmes, CORAH also produces a printed newsletter in the local language.
“The stories basically highlight developmental issues happening in Goromomnzi and other concerns raised by the residents, but we make it a point to focus on finding solutions,” said Jenrod Yeukai Kapisa, a reporter with CORAH.
“Once the citizens understand the issues at hand, they can raise concerns with the local leadership and their elected representatives.”
Kapisa said that some of the issues covered so far include children’s rights and social issues, , urbanisation and conflicts between the local authority and residents among others.
“We intend to disseminate information through various means and media as well as involve communities in speaking about issues that affect them,” said Kapisa.