Spotlight on Winnie Onyimbo, George Atkins Communications Award runner-up, from Trans World Radio, Kenya

| October 17, 2016

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Winnie Onyimbo has worked her way up at Trans World Radio Kenya, a radio station based in Nairobi that reaches 3.5 million listeners across northeastern, eastern, and coastal Kenya.

She started at Trans World doing administrative work after receiving her degree in education. “I then got into broadcast,” she explains. “Scriptwriting interested me most.”

She earned a degree in communications from Daystar University, and has covered science, agriculture, environment, and social issues for 15 years. Now, she is in charge of programs at Trans World Radio and produces the show Africa Challenge.

“I love [it] very much. It allows me to try different formats, including drama, storytelling, discussions, interviews, etc. I love doing features—human interest features. It’s the best aspect of production for me. I feel like someone is entrusting me to tell their story well, using my words,” she says.

Africa Challenge is produced in English, and focuses on small-scale farmers. Mrs. Onyimbo says she concentrates on emerging issues first, including new vaccines, new diseases, or new ways of doing things. She also likes to look at issues that receive little attention from mainstream media, including persistent problems such as animal or plant diseases.

To plan her program, the radio team holds brainstorming meetings every six months and editorial meetings every two weeks. They incorporate listener feedback into the program and into their planning through texts, calls, personal visits, and social media.

She says, “Every day I wake up, my aim is to give practical information that will help meet the needs of small-scale farmers to help them improve their lives and the lives of their communities.”

Mrs. Onyimbo continues to write scripts, contributing to many of Farm Radio International’s Farm Radio Resource Packs. “Through writing these scripts, I have been able to meet many small-scale farmers who are doing their best in their farms, and I am glad to be able to help them share their experiences with other farmers in a very simple way. I am always happy to hear that a farmer put into practice what they heard on the radio and got better yields,” she says.

Mrs. Onyimbo is one of the George Atkins Communications Award finalists for 2016. She has been recognized several times in the past for her excellence in radio. She received the WASH Media Award in 2007-2008 for her story “Disease in a bottle,” and a Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) award for a story on the value chain of indigenous African vegetables. She was also a 2010 Climate Change Media Partnership fellow.

Of her story “Disease in a bottle,” Mrs. Onyimbo says, “I am so proud of this story because it was not meant to be an award-winning story. It started as a personal challenge, living in the city with dry taps, yet paying for piped water.”

The story explores the struggle to access clean drinking water in Kibera, one of the largest informal settlements in Africa. “The irony is that Kibera is located not very far from the lush green lawns of a golfing club for the wealthy in Kenya,” she says. The club received affordable, clean water piped in by the city, while Kibera residents bought dirty water from vendors.

“Less than 10 years later, the situation is much better, and I appreciate that I was able to get the word out then,” Mrs. Onyimbo says.