Maxine Betteridge-Moes | February 17, 2019
When Naomi Afriyie-Nyanor leads a community focus group discussion, she radiates confidence and authority. She wastes no time getting straight to the point. She paces the room, calling on individuals by name. She calls on women and men, young and old, shy and outgoing. She ensures that everyone participates and everyone’s voice is heard.
She says, “[Even when] the majority of the people are men, I stand in front of them asking questions. I’m not the type you can intimidate.”
Ms. Afriyie-Nyanor was the host of a program called Our Development on Fact FM in Bogoso, in Ghana’s Western region. This radio program is an initiative under the West Africa Governance and Economic Sustainability in Extractive Areas (WAGES) project, of which Farm Radio International is a partner. The radio program addressed issues related to poor governance and low accountability in mining communities throughout the region. The 12-week program also aired on Skyy Power FM in Takoradi.
Ms. Afriyie-Nyanor joined the Farm Radio team to assess the impact of the radio program. This involved travelling to 10 target communities over four days and holding focus group discussions with people who listened to the program.
Ms. Afriyie-Nyanor is no stranger to this labour-intensive process of gathering audience feedback. As the host of the weekday morning program, she regularly travels to these communities by taxi to conduct research for the program. When she can’t make the trip herself, she broadcasts her personal phone number and asks listeners to send her a message or a voice note on WhatsApp, describing their issues.
Community members can be important contributors to a radio program and valuable sources of local news. She says, “I use them as citizen journalists.”
She recalls one listener who left her a voice note describing illegal waste disposal in his community: “The place wasn’t a designated refuse dump, but people were just dumping their things and it became a problem for the residents.”
Ms. Afriyie-Nyanor called a local assembly member to appear on air, she played the voice note for him, and asked him what he would do about it. Within three weeks, the refuse dump was cleared.
Holding officials accountable isn’t easy, but radio broadcasters play an important role by bringing officials on air to address issues affecting the communities in which they work. Along with how to create an interactive and gender-balanced program, this is an important aspect of the training Ms. Afriyie-Nyanor and her production team received from Farm Radio International.
Ms. Afriyie-Nyanor graduated from a radio journalism program in Kumasi, and is now completing a distance degree in human resources from a university in Accra. Her extensive experience and education make her a strong and effective interviewer, and she thoroughly enjoys her work.
She says, “The fulfilling aspect of this job is [keeping] duty bearers on their toes and [making them] respond to issues and rectify them. That’s the delight I take in doing the radio job.”
Ms. Afriyie-Nyanor’s hard-headed style of reporting and her track record of holding officials to account is reflected in the fact that two of her female idols in the industry are Gifty Anti, formerly of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, and Afia Pokua of Adom TV.
She explains: “They are confident, bold, and outspoken. They always stand for women. Afia is an advocate for truth.… She speaks about corruption and she unveils people doing corrupt practices. I look up to them as a young lady in the media profession.”
Ms. Afriyie-Nyanor is ambitious and dreams of one day working for BBC Africa. When asked how she plans on getting there, her answer is simple and straight to the point: “Hard work, perseverance, and commitment.”
The WAGES project is an initiative jointly implemented by the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) and the Centre for International Studies and Cooperation (CECI) in Burkina Faso, Ghana and Guinea with funding from Global Affairs Canada.Working in partnership with communities, local government, private sector and other stakeholders, the project’s goal is to enable communities, particularly women and youth, to maximize the socio-economic benefits from extractive resource investment in West Africa.