Burkina Faso: Listeners’ club gratitude for local radio station lifts broadcasters’ spirits (by Nourou-Dhine Salouka, for Farm Radio Weekly in Burkina Faso)

| February 20, 2012

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Awa Kande is a housewife in the town of Nagrengo. The mother of two has long resisted the idea that infants should be exclusively breastfed from birth to six months old, as advocated by health services. It took a radio program to change her mind. She explains: “The program on exclusive breastfeeding helped me a lot. Before, I was breastfeeding my children without paying attention to medical advice … For my next children, I will follow this method strictly.”

The radio station KaKoaadb Yam Vénégré (which means “awakening peasant” in the Mooré language) is a key player in social life in the central Burkina Faso districts of Ziniaré, Loumbila and Nagrerengo. Communities access vital information on health, farming and current events through the radio station.

Broadcasting from Ziniaré, Radio Vénégré has created a community of listeners who are concerned about the well-being of the station. Now, the listeners’ club is actively involved in the life of the radio station. The club organizes regular meetings and listeners buy loyalty cards for its programs.

The loyalty cards cost between 500 and 1000 CFA per year, about one or two U.S cents. The cards allow listeners to send personal messages during a special listeners’ club program called “le concert des auditeurs.”

The club members invest their cash because the station is important to their lives. It informs them of local and national news, and it raises their awareness. It also provides a forum for them to express their views on farming issues, health, and other concerns. In this region perhaps more than in other places, the oral traditional is important.

Though the station broadcasts health programs like the one Awa Kande listens to, Radio Vénégré never forgets that its first duty is to broadcast agricultural information. The station has helped to improve the knowledge and practices of many producers in the region.

Boukari Sinaré is a farmer and president of the listeners’ club. He found the program on making organic manure very beneficial. He has mastered the art of compost-making. He says, “This allowed me to have better yields. I see that the millet heads are larger. This has improved family nutrition.”

According to Mr. Sinaré, the listeners’ club was created to thank the station for all the services it provides the community. Mr. Sinaré is enthusiastic, saying, “I know that the small contributions we make through our purchasing cards cannot improve the station’s finances, but it is a way to show our appreciation.”

Jean-Baptiste Sawadogo is the director of Radio Vénégré. For him, the listeners’ club is a source of inspiration. He says, “It’s not easy to manage a rural station every day … Fortunately, these signs of friendship from the listeners’ club boost our spirits.”