admin | October 17, 2022
The application period for the 2022-23 Farm Radio Awards is now open. To celebrate, we are republishing two stories about past winners of the George Atkins Communications Award: Jefferson Massah in Liberia (2015) and Carole Leuwe in Cameroon (2016).
We hope these stories inspire you to create programming that contributes to food security and poverty reduction in low-income countries.
For more information and to apply for the award, go to: https://farmradio.fm/farm-radio-awards/
These stories were originally published in October 2015 and October 2016, respectively.
The George Atkins Communications Award recognizes rural radio broadcasters for their outstanding commitment and contribution to food security and poverty reduction. Jefferson Massah from Liberia is one of the broadcasters honoured with the award in 2015.
Here is an excerpt from our story about Jefferson Massah.
Mr. Massah is the head of programs at Radio Gbarnga, located in Bong County, Liberia. When Ebola broke out in West Africa last year, Liberians needed critical health information. Mr. Massah and his team understood this need and created a new show to address it.
The program, Ebola Situation Report, aired news, health tips, and interviews related to the Ebola crisis. The broadcasters used catchy jingles to spread the word on how to identify Ebola. The show featured regular updates from local and international health authorities on how the outbreak was being addressed. Authorities met three times a week with the Radio Gbarnga team to pass along accurate and up-to-date information.
Mr. Massah used the lessons he learned in Farm Radio International’s training courses, including the 2012 e-course, to make sure that the program effectively addressed its listeners. The show featured the voices of concerned listeners as well as policy-makers. Radio Gbarnga also integrated Ebola messaging into its news and current affairs shows.
One challenge of fighting Ebola in Liberia was people’s reluctance to go to a health centre, even when suffering the symptoms of Ebola. Many Liberians saw health centres as a place where people went to die.
Mr. Massah tried to change this perception by interviewing an Ebola survivor—a man who went to a health clinic when he recognized the signs of Ebola, received the appropriate treatment, and lived to tell his tale.
Mr. Massah has received previous recognition for his reporting. In 2013, the Press Union of Liberia named him Development Journalist of the Year after he produced a story about women in agricultural development.
Mr. Massah says: “I employed all the skills acquired from Farm Radio to produce a very good report from a rice processing centre managed by a group of rural women in central Liberia. I am very pleased to imprint my contribution to the ‘achievement column’ of Farm Radio International as one who has immensely benefited from its training program.”
Here is an excerpt from our story about Jefferson Massah.Here is an excerpt from our story about Carole Leuwe.
Even before she started working in radio, Carole Leuwe used to listen to and closely follow presenters from different radio stations in the city of Douala. Passionate about radio, she knew her voice was going to be on a station’s airwaves one day. While pursuing her studies at the University of Dshang in western Cameroon, she got a job with Yemba Community Radio in 2002, just two weeks after starting an internship there.
After five years with Radio Yemba, her talent and devotion took her to Bafoussam in western Cameroon, where she joined Radio Star’s team as a reporter and presenter. She also hosted a farmer program called FertiVert. She recalls: “The interesting part is that we scheduled it because there was a sponsor who wanted their pesticides sold. But over time, we understood that farmers liked the program because we used to give them tips on how to manage their tomatoes, how to work with their cabbage, and how to produce potatoes. This program ran for 30 minutes, three times a week, in the evenings. It was one of the flagship programs of the station.”
After a time, the manager of Radio Star offered her the position of Director of Programs. She says, “It was at that point that I started to take my work more seriously as the career I was going to pursue to this day.”
A few years later, she joined Radio Nostalgie as the news editor. In addition to her current duties with 96 FM (formerly known as Radio Nostalgie), Mrs. Leuwe is a committed defender of the rights of children, women, and people with disabilities.
At 96 FM, she hosts programs on culture and health, but farming remains her real passion. Mrs. Leuwe says that it was during her years at Radio Yemba that she learned that it was important to broadcast tips that would address farmers’ needs in their local languages. But her bosses at Radio Nostalgie didn’t see the importance of airing a program dedicated to farming. So she decided to get creative and take advantage of her program on health to broadcast farming messages.
Eventually, she was able to convince her managers by telling them that she was one of the proud recipients of the George Atkins Communications Award. Her pride was more than symbolic. Thanks to this award, Mrs. Leuwe succeeded in convincing the managers of Radio 96 FM to dedicate a program to farmers who, according to Mrs. Leuwe, are an essential part of Cameroon’s future.
So, since September 2016, the 96 FM program schedule has included a farmer program called Agri 237. The program currently broadcasts farmer advice to listeners.
Photo: Jefferson Massah (left) interviewing an Ebola survivor. Carole Leuwe (right) receives her award.