[music: Osama Ali, “OSudan”]
[radio program in local language – female voice]
Since Sudan’s 22-year old civil war ended in 2005,
the people of the most remote regions of the country
are desperate for news and information.
Internews has been building community radio stations
and training local reporters here since 2006 to provide
their communities with crucial information about the
peace agreement, the interim constitution, and the
resettlement of returning refugees.
The 4 radio stations that have been completed are the
first ever community radio stations to be set up in
these remote parts of Sudan, which is emerging from
one of Africa’s longest running wars.
Right after Internews trained a radio reporting team in
the Southern Sudan town of Malualkon, citizens who
were angry that free food was only going to returnees to
the area raided and looted United Nations food stores there.
The local journalists at Nhomlaau FM, had just begun
running the station hours earlier. Their timely and effective
coverage of the issue helped defuse tensions.
The reporters provided essential information to the
community and invited World Food Program staff on the air
to discuss the issue.
They also interviewed the police and other local authorities.
With the low literacy rate in Sudan, radio is the most
effective way to provide a voice to the voiceless.
But how do you bring radio to a region where there
is absolutely no electricity available?
Solar and wind are helping power four new radio stations
that Internews has set up in Southern Sudan.
Backup generators recharge battery cells on cloudy days.
Roads in these parts of Sudan are very long and arduous,
impassable in the rainy season, or simply non-existent.
All equipment has to be flown in on small planes.
At the Kauda station in the Nuba Mountains, Internews hired
more than a dozen women, to carry more than one ton of
equipment up the mountain to the remote transmission site – a
site that is entirely powered by solar and wind generated energy.
The batteries can weigh up to 64 kilos or 140 pounds.
The solar panels must be installed not only where they get
the best sun, but also where they won’t be damaged by
roaming goats and cows.
The stations currently broadcast 6 days a week, 8 hours a day
in at least 10 different languages.
Journalists are hard to come by in rural South Sudan.
At the station in Kurmuk, all five staff members were
recruited solely on the basis of their enthusiasm and a
strong desire to learn. They had to be trained from scratch.
Sammy Muraya is a professional journalist from Kenya,
who was trained and mentored by Internews.
He is working with the Kurmuk team to help launch the station.
The radio stations that Internews has founded in these remote
regions are empowering local communities with vital news and
information and a means to make their voices heard.
Two more radio stations will be built in 2009.
[male announcer’s voice on the radio in local language]