Radio Boda-boda goes the extra mile to serve listeners

IMG_6950-1-595x400Rural radio broadcasts reach some of the most remote areas of sub-Saharan Africa. However, when FRI Tanzania staff visited the farming village of Engare Nairobi west of Mount Kilimanjaro, it became clear that people there were unable to receive a radio signal. Without access to radio, Engare Nairobi’s farmers were missing out on critical agricultural information.

Radio coverage map that shows how the village of Engare Nairobi misses out!

Radio coverage map that shows how the village of Engare Nairobi misses out!

But now, through an innovative project developed at FRI’s radio and ICT innovation lab, The Hangar, radio content is being delivered to hard-to-reach places such as Engare Nairobi on motorcycle taxis — or “boda-bodas” as they are known across much of East Africa.

Working with FRI broadcasting partner Sauti ya Injili, FRI hires a boda-boda once a month to transport SD memory cards containing several pre-recorded agricultural radio programs to a community listening group in Engare Nairobi. The boda-boda travels 85 kilometres from Sauti ya Injili’s studios in the town of Moshi to Engare Nairobi.

Tanzanian farmers listening to a solar-powered Freeplay radio with SD card.

Tanzanian farmers listening to a solar-powered Freeplay radio with SD card.

Villagers listen to the programs on wind-up, solar-powered Freeplay radios that FRI gave to community listening groups. Each memory card holds up to four programs. Listening group members are not only able to listen to the programs, but can also record messages for the Kilimo ni utafiti (Farming is research) program on Sauti ya Injili.

Tumaini Masahi

Tumaini Masahi, chairperson of Engare Nairobi village in Tanzania.

Tumaini Masahi is a 47-year-old small-scale farmer and mother of two. She is also the village chairperson. Mrs. Masahi says, “Each month, [the] Kijiji Biashara farmers group receives the SD card [and] listens to the Kilimo ni utafiti radio program together at the Engare Nairobi village office. It [has] helped us understand the importance of sharing agricultural information with other farmers from nearby villages.”

Published online @ farmradio.org

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About

Adam Bemma is a journalist and media development advisor.

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