Map of AJHR's network of radio stations
From everyone here at Internews and our local partner in CAR, the Association of Journalists for Human Rights (AJHR), we wanted to extend our deepest gratitude for your contributions to this project. All funds received from this project go directly to AJHR to help them operate during this crisis, by delivering life-saving information via a network of radio stations across the country.
Following the Séléka rebel group’s takeover of Bangui on March 24 that forced President Francis Bozizé to flee the capital, Bangui declined into state of chaos with significant looting and pillaging of homes, offices and shops, severe shortages of electricity and fuel, and curtailed access to health services, transportation and food. Since that day, your support has done so much to assist the more than 4.1 million people who have been directly affected by the crisis and our local partner, the Association of Journalists for Human Rights (AJHR).
In CAR, to overcome the difficulties of communication caused by power outages, lack of Internet access, bad roads, and rebel occupation in several areas, Internews created a unique network connecting 15 community radio stations in CAR. The Association of Journalists for Human Rights, a local organization that was founded in December 2010 at one of the training sessions organized by Internews, runs the network. The Association connects the stations with one other and enables humanitarian agencies to learn what is happening in hard-to-reach areas for them and quickly exchange information with communities throughout the country.
Thanks to daily bulletins, humanitarian agencies are able to intervene more quickly in response to demands from the local population. For example, Radio Zereda in Obo, one of the partners in the far east of the country, which is under LRA influence, reported in early 2011 on the disappearance of a number of refugees in a Congolese refugee camp near the border. The bulletin alarmed UNHCR, the Congolese government, and the Central African government, and a UNHCR fact-finding mission was sent out. Some days later, the refugees were discovered inside Congo.
In CAR, AJHR is continuing to work around the clock to ensure that life-saving information is delivered via a network of radio stations across the country. Sending regular news bulletins to a growing network of news outlets is central to the work that AJHR is doing now to ensure that important news updates reach even the most remote places in the country. With your support, AJHR can continue this important work, and continue to operate under these extreme circumstances.
Integrating Local Media and ICTs into Humanitarian Response in CAR
Thanks to a grant from the Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF), Internews is excited to introduce an innovative new program starting in March, entitled Integrating Local Media and ICTs into Humanitarian Response in CAR , which will foster a bounded network of trusted local media organizations. This network will be able to gather real-time, first-hand information from affected populations to create a two-way communication flow with humanitarians, improving emergency response, community participation and community resilience.
This will allow AJHR to further expand their network by training the remaining 13 radio stations on the use of FrontlineSMS software to collect information from their listeners. This information will then be geo-located and processed in order to feed information into the humanitarian community in a more structured way to positively influence their decision-making (think faster, smarter) using interactive maps and categorization of information through a Ushahidi platform.
This HIF pilot project will increase the efficiency, transparency and accountability of humanitarian relief efforts and increase community resilience by leveraging the relationship that local media have with their communities and strengthening these existing social networks through technological solutions. This project will create a reliable and sustainable system that will allow local media to gather, in real time, first-hand information from populations and channel it to the humanitarian sector, while at the same time, establishing a two-way communication flow with local communities.
Why Local Media Matters
In times of crises, conflict and emergency, access to reliable, accurate and well-targeted information can save lives. Communication is aid, and failing to act on this principle and provide resources accordingly means that humanitarian actors neglect people’s right to access information, ask questions, and participate in their own relief and recovery.
There are many complex and intertwined conflict dynamics affecting CAR and neighboring countries that also require targeted information and communications based responses. Local radio stations in CAR have already demonstrated the crucial role they play in the exchange of information between listeners in the community and international humanitarian organizations, UN agencies and local aid providers. ICTs, technical and power limitations allowing, can only strengthen the phenomenal role local media currently play. At the end of the day, for many local communities, radio may be the only thing they can turn into.
It’s donors like you who can make these projects possible. From all of us at Internews and AJHR, thank you very much for your continued support and involvement in our work in CAR.
More about Internews' projects in Central African Republic