As 2011 came to an end, Enfomasyon Nou Dwe Konnen (ENDK), or “News You Can Use,” celebrated the release of its 500th episode. In the two years following the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010, ENDK has become an essential source of news for listeners throughout the country. The radio program, produced by Haitians and for Haitians, continues to provide the population with basic information about health and hygiene, post-crisis reconstruction, development and civic education. Radio, one of the most important sources of information for Haitians, has played an essential role in supporting the population through the difficult and painful process of reconstruction, providing individuals with the information they need to make informed decisions for their well-being. When asked in a focus group discussion in the provinces about what they had learned from ENDK, one Haitian responded, “you can protect yourself from cholera by following all the hygiene rules such as: not drinking water that is not treated…not eating food that is not fully cooked.” Listeners of the program are able to share information they learn with others, spreading important information throughout their communities.
The impact of the radio program has been profound in shaping the humanitarian response and engaging the local population. Throughout our work in Haiti, Internews has continued to work with local journalists to build their capacity and ensure the sustainability of programs like ENDK. Journalists like Karl Foster Candio, one of the early editors-in-chief of ENDK, have gained significant recognition for their skills and have gone on to work for other national news outlets, spreading their knowledge and skill to national news outlets in desperate need of skilled reporters. This has been our goal from the beginning of the project and we are continuing to support the Haitian media through training and capacity building. Internews has engaged short term consultants to actively build the capacity of local media outlets in Haiti, and the Senior Resident Journalism Advisor, continues to help our partner radio stations to develop useful programming for their listeners. This past January Radio Boukman and Vision 2000 independently produced their first ENDK-like reports. We are extremely hopeful and excited about the progress that community radio stations are making and their growing independence in the Haitian media.
Thanks to your generous support, we were able to help Haitian people spread vital information throughout their own communities during a time of great crisis. Our work would not have been possible without your contributions.
A celebration is happening in Deir al Balah, Gaza. A very special radio station, the first of its kind in the Middle East, is celebrating its sixth anniversary. Fursan al Erada was created in 2006 as a voice for people with disabilities, run by reporters with disabilities. Funded by a coalition of organizations that work with disabled people in the Gaza Strip, the radio station was created to address ignorance and negative stereotypes about disabilities. It began broadcasting on December 6th, 2005, International Day for People with Special Needs. “We are celebrating a radio station that is concerned about people with special needs, and now these same people are making the day for all the people [in the community]. All the activities, songs, dancing, and more are presented by the staff and people with special needs,” said Mahmoud Mussallami, Manager of Fursan Al Erada radio station.
The radio station has set a goal to educate the larger community, while also addressing their target audience with special programming dealing with issues that face the disabled in Palestine. The station’s media strategy aims to change the attitudes and perceptions about people with disabilities, while also assisting them in preparing to become leaders in their communities.
In general the public pays little attention to the problems of people with disabilities, and often sees them as dependent, non-productive people that in the past were often hidden away from society. Although there is a law that deals with access and employment for disabled people in Palestine, it is not enforced; there are no curb cuts for wheelchairs, no easy access to public buildings, no public transportation equipped to deal with disabilities, and no audio traffic signals to alert the blind, to name a few.
As of January 2011, there were 38,000 people with disabilities living in Gaza. Of those, 47.5% have mobility impairments, and this number increases yearly because of the on-going conflicts in Gaza. The second largest group is the hearing disabled, followed by vision, then learning disabilities as recorded by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. The same study also highlighted the problems faced within society, noting, “…22.2% dropped out of school and 8.7% usually avoid performing any activities because of others’ attitudes towards them.” (PCBS and Ministry of Social Affairs, Disability Survey 2011.
From the outset, the station believed that it was very important to shed a light on people with disabilities and the issues and challenges they faced, as well as addressing the negative attitudes of society. This is why the radio station was established. And, so far, they are making a difference in the lives of their audience and those with disabilities by setting an example in their programming and through the achievements and reports of their staff.
The main achievements, as highlighted by the station manager, underscore the importance of the station and its growing sustainability. In the last six years, the station has:
-Produced 50 program cycles focusing on people with disabilities.
-Covered stories and broadcast throughout the Gaza Strip (during the last three years)
-Covered all activities for people with disabilities in Gaza.
-Hosted civil society representatives in the radio programs.
He also explained that thanks to Internews trainings, Fursan Al Erada also prepared an organizational chart for the radio station, developed job descriptions for every employee and used strategic planning skills in preparing for the sixth anniversary events and coverage as part of the outreach and growth of the station.
“Fursan Al Erada has managed to reach all areas in the Gaza Strip with its programming and in the future, we aim to reach all areas of Palestine. We are covering all activities of people with special needs in Gaza Strip. We have managed to reach a point where NGOs approach us to let us talk about their activities,” said Osama Abu Safar, Head of Media Relations and Communications. Osama, like the majority of the staff, is a person with a disability; they are presenters, reporters, editors, program directors, and administrative personnel.
Thanks to your generous contributions the station was able to purchase new field recorder equipment, and these journalists are now able to expand their coverage of stories from the field, getting them closer to their ultimate goal and vision.
On September 30, 2011, the popular radio program Enfomasyon Nou Dwe Konnen (ENDK), or “News You Can Use,” produced its 450th program. Due to its widespread success and popularity, the program is still being broadcast for free on more than 30 radio stations in Port au Prince and the provinces. Described by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) as the “backbone of the humanitarian information operation of Haiti,” ENDK has been instrumental in providing critical information for the Haitian population that is based on their information wants and needs. While the program continues to have a strong public health and disaster alert component, it is steadily working towards a broader focus on recovery, reconstruction, development and civic education topics. With the support of funding from the Office of Transitional Initiatives (OTI), Internews and ENDK are contributing to media capacity building by intensive training and coaching exchanges with 15 partner media who will continue to produce such content in an ENDK type format beyond the current OTI grant. Internews is committed to ensuring that programs like ENDK become self-sustainable and continue to provide vital and life-saving information.
In addition to supporting the radio program and training local journalists, Internews is also supporting a team of 19 Haitian researchers to develop the first independent Haitian research firm BRESI. Internews originally formed a team of Haitian researchers to conduct research on the access to and use of the media by Haiti’s earthquake affected population and most importantly its information needs. The idea was that this information would feed into ENDK programming to ensure that it was responsive to the affected populations’ information needs. In recognition of the important work conducted by this outstanding team of researchers, OTI supported Internews-Haiti’s goal of helping the team develop into an independent research firm capable of operating to international standards. The bi-monthly reports put out by the team are widely circulated among other NGOs, the Haitian government and other key actors, showcasing the tremendous capacity of the team to execute high quality research.
Thank you for your continued support of humanitarian news and information in Haiti.