Nelly Bassily | February 11, 2013
An announcement travels over the airwaves of Eden Radio: “Climate and weather tory. Wona lookot!” This is pidgin English for “Climate and weather news! Pay attention!” It’s the introduction to a daily 30-minute program on this community radio station in the coastal town of Limbe, Cameroon. The program provides updates on weather and issues related to climate change. Such news affects listeners’ lives and livelihoods as Cameroon faces increasingly extreme weather.
Some 40 community radio stations in Cameroon now incorporate disaster warning information into their programming. The stations receive government funding to support broadcasting this information. It’s part of an effort to educate people about climate change and the need to take preventative measures to deal with extreme weather.
Emma Moto is the station manager at Eden Radio. She grew up in Limbe and lived through the devastation caused by heavy rains and floods. Until recently, her station gave little attention to climate issues. But some training she received through the Ministry of Communication alerted her to the role radio can play. Ms. Moto states, “I am now well aware of the importance of the media when it comes to early warnings on climate-triggered and other natural disasters.”
Eden Radio’s daily broadcast includes advice for farmers on planting techniques to deal with changing weather patterns. There are also tips, such as how to protect homes against flooding and how to drive safely in heavy rain. Ms. Moto says that the climate and weather program is attracting a significant audience after just one month. Listeners include fishers and farmers whose lives and livelihoods depend on the weather.
Thadius Kumsi holds his transistor radio to his ear when it’s time for the program. He’s a fisherman in Limbe. He explains why he listens: “I leave as early as 2 a.m. for the sea to place my net for the day’s catch. So news on weather updates is very important for my business as well as others who take such early morning risks.”
Zachee Nzohngandembou is coordinator of a Cameroonian NGO called The Centre for Environment and Rural Transformation. He says that scarcity of information on climate change is a major obstacle preventing African farmers from taking measures to adapt. He adds: “It is against this background that community radio could be useful as the right medium of broadcasting that is closest to the people at the grassroots level.”