Chad: Radio shows for young, illiterate populations in the Sahel

With an extremely low literacy rate and half the population under 15 years old, the Chadian media sector offers one of the few outlets for young people and others to engage in issues relevant to their lives. Radio is a vital vessel of information for the people of Chad which creates a natural fit with their oral culture.

So, drawing on the expertise of the Equal Access local production team in the Chadian capital, N’Djamena, we worked towards the launch of three long-running radio series on youth, good governance and religious tolerance as part of USAID’s Peace Through Development (PDEV) programme in the Sahel region.

We spent the first weeks organising stakeholder workshops for key media, religious and state institutions to suggest ideas for themes and styles of programming. Our production team wrote the shows based on these insights. For the drama series they used the Sabido Method of radio serial writing, involving entertaining characters with whom the target audience can empathise. Next to peers and parents, role models in media can be effective in shaping cultural attitudes and behaviour.

We trained over 100 men and women from remote regions of the county to become community reporters using simple audio technology to collect voices from their own villages and local areas to include in the programmes. This meant that in every radio drama and chat show episode, local voices and views were always represented – a new style of inclusive and participatory radio for the Chadian people. In the absence of broadband Internet and literacy skills, this is a key technique for local voices to be heard on national media channels.

We also worked with one of Equal Access’ technicians from Nepal to carry out a radio mapping exercise on 15 FM stations around the country to measure their impact and their reach. It was the first time in the country this had been done.  And after 2 years of regular production and broadcast, there were nearly 1 million Chadians listening to the radio programmes.