Using Farm Radio resources for programs other than agriculture

| April 14, 2019

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One of a radio program manager’s vital tasks is identifying relevant topics to be discussed on different programs. Mornahson Alexander is the program manager at Radio Tamale in the Northern Region of Ghana. A few months ago, Mr. Alexander was intrigued by an email he received from Farm Radio International that contained detailed information about stroke. The email contained a backgrounder on stroke and two scripts that discussed risk factors, facts and myths, preventative measures, and more. He knew it would be useful information for a health program, but was also interested in sharing the information with his farming audience.

Mr. Alexander says: “When it comes to farming, there is a lot of stress and hard work attached to it. Farmers are at risk for stroke. That was what came to my mind. I realized that it was something worth discussing.”

He learned that, while the incidence of stroke appears to be decreasing in higher-income countries, it is increasing in Africa. According to the World Health Organization, there are 6.2 million deaths globally from stroke each year—it’s the second leading cause of death in adults. But with proper awareness, education, and treatment, this number could be drastically reduced.

Mr. Alexander quickly forwarded the email to his colleague, Ibrahim Alhassan, one of the hosts of the weekly farmer program. Radio Tamale devotes roughly two hours a week to agricultural programming. Mr. Alhassan hosts the English-language program on Tuesday mornings, and the station devotes another hour to farmers on Saturday evenings in the local Dagbanli and Gonja languages. Mr. Alhassan read the backgrounder and developed interview questions for a local doctor and university lecturer, Dr. Abdallah Idrisu Yahaya. He says stroke is something many of his listeners don’t know much about.

Mr. Alhassan adds, “People are suffering from it but they don’t even know. If a farmer is sick, he runs to his herbalist before a health centre.” One important section of the FRI backgrounder on stroke talks about medication and offers a series of questions patients should ask their doctors about proper dosages.

Mr. Alhassan interviewed Dr. Yahaya on air. Over the course of the live discussion, he opened the phone lines and the WhatsApp and text message line for listeners to participate in the program. Dr. Yahaya was able to respond to questions, offer explanations, and describe preventative measures. He even invited listeners to visit the Tamale Teaching Hospital where he works for an in-depth consultation.

According to Mr. Alhassan, the farmer program usually focuses on topics related to the farming calendar. Recently, he has covered everything from beekeeping to pest management to post-harvest losses. But he and Mr. Alexander noted that they received many phone calls and dozens of messages throughout the live program about stroke. Now, Dr. Yahaya is a regular guest and appears on the station at least once a week—on Thursday’s health program.

Mr. Alexander and Mr. Alhassan have worked extensively with Farm Radio International, each having participated in broadcaster resources training in Tamale while they were working for different radio stations. Radio Tamale became an official FRI broadcasting partner in July 2018 and Mr. Alhassan has been hosting the farmer program for one year. He reads all the messages and resources sent through the FRI Ghana WhatsApp group, a platform for partner stations and broadcasters to share ideas and discuss topics related to their farmer programs.

He says: “I find [the group] useful not just for agriculture, but it’s important to me as a media person. You can use [the resources] to make a formal discussion to improve practices to help the farmers. Sometimes [the resources] come from other countries like Uganda and Kenya, and we look at how we can hold a discussion about policy in other countries that can help Ghanaian farmers as well.”

As 2019 gets underway, Radio Tamale is making small changes and updates to its programming schedule, but both Mr. Alexander and Mr. Alhassan are sure they will continue to use Farm Radio resources to support them in their work.

Farm Radio International has produced four scripts and a backgrounder document about stroke. You can access all of these in this theme pack, which was shared by email in November 2018: