» East African community radios trained to combat HIV/AIDS
06.11.2012 - Communication & Information Sector

East African community radios trained to combat HIV/AIDS

Participants of the UNESCO workshop interviewing the District Social Welfare Officer for Sengerema – © UNESCO/Al Amin Yusuph

UNESCO, in collaboration with Sengerema Community Radio and the East Africa Community Media Network (EACOMNET), is hosting a five-day training workshop this week in the Sengerema District, Tanzania for nine community radios on promoting awareness of HIV/AIDS.

The workshop aims to strengthen educational responses to HIV/AIDS prevention and care, strengthen partnerships among community radios in East Africa, and support regional integration efforts in East Africa.

New technologies, including the use of an online platform, will be put into place to support a wider distribution of HIV/AIDS programmes in East Africa. 

“The media can be a tremendous force in the war on HIV/AIDS,” said Ms Rose Mwalimu, the main facilitator of the workshop, while handing out digital voice recorders that will be used to engage communities in HIV/AIDS radio programmes. “In Africa, the media are an essential part of the solution that will lead into having HIV/AIDS-free societies.”

The workshop has imparted participating community radios with skills in development of HIV/AIDS content and message matrices to promote and sensitize youth on the use of gender responsive and gender sensitive language in HIV/AIDS communication.

In addition to exchanging best practices and learning new techniques in packaging HIV/AIDS communication, participants have been able to identify potential partners in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, who can assist them in the production and distribution of HIV/AIDS prevention and care radio programmes, as well as monitor and evaluate the impact of radio programmes.

The participants represent Mugambo Jwetu and Mange’lete Community Radio from Kenya, Ishingiro Community Radio and Radio Izuba from Rwanda, FADECO FM, Sengerema Community Radio and Kyela Community Radio from Tanzania, and Radio MAMA and Radio APAC from Uganda.

The workshop has also included the regional commissioner for the Mwanza Region,the district commissioner for the Sengerema District, the Director of the UNESCO Office in Dar es Salaam, a district health official from Sengerema and representatives from the Youth of the United Nations Association.

The workshop is jointly organized by the UNESCO Dar es Salaam and Nairobi Offices.

Radio is seen as one of the most effective methods of communication, and many East Africans depend on community media for news and development-related knowledge for informed decision-making

Community media is particularly valued in rural and other local communities, giving it a unique role in promoting HIV/AIDS awareness. Such awareness is necessary for people to make informed decisions to help prevent the spread of the virus, protect themselves, and ensure proper care and treatment of people with HIV/AIDS.

This week’s training comes in the framework of a project for East African radios in youth and HIV/AIDS  funded through the Unified Budget Results Accountability Framework (UBRAF). The activity contributes to reducing sexual transmission of HIV and empowering young people and other citizens with knowledge and skills to protect themselves from new HIV infections.

Its overall goal is to contribute to universal access to comprehensive HIV programmes for prevention, treatment, care and support. 

“With the knowledge that I have gained during the workshop, I will now be able to disseminate HIV/AIDS prevention and care messages at the right time to the right people,” said Mr Timothy Mutua from Mugambo FM 102.3 in Kenya.

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