Niger: Radio shows in Niger and a documentary film to show impact

Although one of the poorest countries in the world, Niger has a vibrant and rich media environment, with one of West Africa’s most popular technical universities, IFTIC (Institut de Formation aux Techniques de l’Information) and a broad network of national, community and private radio FMs broadcasting around the country.

I supported the Equal Access production team in the capital, Niamey as they story-lined, wrote and produced three long running radio drama and chat show series as part of USAID’s Peace Through Development (PDEV) programme in the Sahel.

The shows were produced in local languages and focused on promoting dialogue within communities by addressing themes of national concern within the contexts of youth, good governance and religious tolerance. The population in Niger is predominantly Muslim with a small Christian minority. For the first time in Niger’s media history, the team produced a youth chat show to be broadcast from an Islamic radio station with a combination of Muslim and Christian presenters.

After two years of being on air through 40 partner radio stations around Niger, the shows had an average of 2.5 million listeners and the feedback and listener news and views  flooded in.

We worked together combining the longstanding oral frameworks of ‘Fadas’ or listening groups, with technology such as Frontline SMS which allows listeners to have their say, sometimes for the first time on national radio, via text message, and via community reporters – local citizens trained in interviewing techniques and audio technology. The media teams wove the listeners’ news and views into the episodes, allowing audiences to hear their own voices and opinions on national radio, and providing a platform for the voices of diverse communities across Niger.

I filmed and directed a short documentary, ‘The Leaders of Change’ for the donor and for the Equal Access website, to highlight the impact of the radio programming over the 3 year PDEV programme, providing an insight into how leaders within local communities can take ownership of media programmes to improve their lives.