Scaling Her Voice on Air: New project brings interactive radio to more than two million women farmers in West Africa

March 10, 2019
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Farm Radio International is excited to start a new five-year project that will bring interactive radio services to more than seven million farmers, and focus on serving women farmers and challenging inequalities between women and men. Thanks to funding from Global Affairs Canada, Farm Radio International will work with radio partners in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, and Senegal.

Africa’s small-scale farmers, particularly women, produce food for their families and communities, yet are among the most vulnerable to malnutrition and poverty. Agriculture can be a driver of food security, employment, women’s empowerment, economic development, and improved nutrition. But many farmers have limited access to good information, technologies, and services related to these topics, and women especially often have poorer access to or influence over them.

Quality information and communication services can help women and men farmers make changes that improve their lives and livelihoods. In the Scaling Her Voice on Air project, radio will be used to share good, gender-sensitive agricultural information and amplify the voices of farmers, especially women, so that they can exchange ideas with each other and with other stakeholders in their communities. Farm Radio will engage particularly with women, so that they can be leaders and fully participate in the food and nutrition security of their families and communities.

This project will build on the successes and lessons learned from Her Voice on Air, an FRI project that delivered high-quality interactive radio programming to farmers in Ethiopia, Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda and provided space to talk and reflect on-air about gender inequalities. Through this project, Farm Radio worked closely with 134 women’s groups to amplify the voices of women, building their capacity to use information and communication technologies (ICTs), and training broadcasters on gender issues.

“Through our Her Voice on Air project, women noticed an increased respect for their ability to educate each other on farming practices. They gained the confidence to discuss and explain their farming practices and became the main channel of information regarding the new practices they learned from the radio shows,” explains Caroline Montpetit, Regional program manager, West Africa, and Gender Specialist.

Farm Radio has had offices in West Africa since 2007, but this project will be the first in Senegal. With more than 100 radio stations in Senegal, this project provides a great opportunity to build on the existing culture of radio as a communication service. And with 21 broadcasting partners already in Senegal, FRI has a strong network to build on.

“The goal is to not only deliver high quality, participatory, and interactive radio programs to millions of small-scale farmers, but to do so in a way that can be sustained long after the five years of this project. With community involvement and cooperation with a variety of stakeholders, these programs will continue to support farming families, and especially women, with good information for years to come,” says Mrs. Montpetit.

The Scaling Her Voice on Air project will end in 2023. The Government of Canada, through Global Affairs Canada, is supporting the project with a grant of $5 million over the five years of the project.