It’s a hot Saturday afternoon and Betty Bagadira, a resident of Kaiso-Tonya landing site in Buseruka Sub County in Hoima district has just retired from her daily duties. She has been drying her Silver fish commonly known as Mukene but the scorching sun forces her to seek shelter under a Neem tree near her house.
To her, it’s her time to listen to the Radio. She sends for a radio set and a bench from her house and calls her fellow women to join her. When the women assembled, she tunes to their favorite radio program, Nyinabwenge – Women’s program. The weekly show, featuring discussions and advices from community perspective, is broadcast on Community Green Radio, the district’s first community radio and for many women in Hoima, the only way to get information from outside the village.
“The radio is very important to us, it talks about our problems and solutions and in our native language,” says Bagadira.
Women in Kaiso-Tonya mainly depend on fish business for their livelihood, however, the population influx and poor fishing methods have caused drastic reduction in fish stock. For Bagadira, listening to Nyinabwenge show has helped her get other income alternatives and add value to their business to get more income as well as conserving the environment.
“The radio has helped me to think beyond fish business. I have started packing mukene to add value. I have also started doing other alternative income generating activities like weaving to get income. We also have a problem of wind and lack of sheds at the landing site. I have started giving out tree seedlings from my Neem tree to my fellow women so that they can also plant in their compounds.”
For two and a half hours, four days a week, the radio promotes women’s empowerment at grassroots level in remote villages of Hoima and Buliisa districts.
The districts lie in the oil rich region where oil developments require more land thus displacing many people. Being a patriarchal society with many communities considering access and ownership of land by women is against social norms, the radio has helped in sensitizing women on their land rights.
“We have been sensitized that as women we also have a right to timely, adequate and fair compensation once land it taken by government,” said Doreen Kusemerwa another listener from Kaiso-Tonya.
To reach people in villages, Community Green Radio has worked with communities to build listeners clubs. Ten women dominated listeners clubs have been formed so far.
Seated in groups, the listeners’ club members discuss day-to-day issues like environment, health, education and the economic empowerment with the radio journalists who record their voices and play them on air.
Fred Kabagambe, the chairperson Kaiso-Tonya Listeners’ club says the initiative has built confidence in women and can express their concerns.
“The village women were reluctant to express their opinions after lifetimes of being told by men that they had nothing to say. Community radio has made them aware of their rights so that they can speak up. They now have a platform where they can put forward their grievances and in turn be educated on important issues.”
The radio acts as a medium between locals and various government officials, helping to raise awareness of issues like education, health, justice and the environment.
“It has helped them get actively involved and ask questions. This engagement is empowering them to fight for their rights, raise their voices and educate themselves,” says Kabagambe
Community Green Radio which is owned by communities and managed by National Association of Professional Environmentalists started in 2014 with the main aim of amplifying the voice of marginalized communities.
STORY COMPILED BY PRECIOUS NATURINDA