When Does Information Change Lives?

An evaluation of community radio development in South Sudan and the Three Areas

Cover: When Does Information Change Lives?

A central belief of media assistance is that information changes people’s lives for the better, improving governance, promoting economic development and strengthening civil society. But does assistance really lead to those outcomes?

To examine that question, Internews commissioned a report, When Does Information Change Lives?, that looks at the effects of five small FM radio stations launched and managed by Internews with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Author and Internews Senior Advisor Sonya De Masi found that there is enormous potential for media development in South Sudan, because of the enthusiasm for and interest in news and information, even in the most remote villages.

“…When there is a public meeting made by the government, we can go direct to [make]
aware the community…so our people are improving, they are learning,” said a listener in Malualkon, Northern Bahr el Ghazal. “Everybody is looking for a radio to know what is going on in the community.”

The report shows that the radio stations have been effective in providing an open forum for dialogue and debate at the local level, with access for members of government, civil society organizations, and the public.

In addition, the stations have proven to be an outlet for the voices of women (including one who ran for and won elective office), marginalized minorities, and the poor, and promoted social trust and solidarity. Listeners identified strongly with their local station, frequently describing it as “their own.”

Local residents use the word “light” to describe radio’s effects, saying radio illuminated “the darkness.”

Read the report, When Does Information Change Lives?

See an earlier, related report on radio stations in Sudan, Light in the Darkness.

Related Stories

  • Ukraine: Finding Home for Children on the Run from War in the East

    Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    The military conflict in Ukraine’s east has driven thousands of Donbas residents out of their homes, seeking safer abodes and better fortunes in other places across the country. Now they are called ‘internally displaced’, or IDPs, and many of them, literally, have to start their lives from scratch. And it is even more difficult for those families with children. In addition to financial hardship, many families must also cope with the psychological effects the war has had on their children. When the state fails in tackling these deeply emotional issues, volunteers come forward to help.

  • Internews Aims to Safeguard Dialogue, Info

    Radio World
    Friday, March 17, 2017

    Internews is a non-profit organization with a mission to “empower local media worldwide to provide people with news and information and the means to make their voices heard.” The association has been operating globally for more than 30 years and today is working in Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Tanzania. Radio World spoke to Brice Rambaud, regional director, Sub-Saharan Africa at Internews about the impact of radio in these countries.

Research & Publications