Internews in South Sudan has developed an innovative recorded audio program to provide life-saving and life-enhancing information to people displaced at two of the UNMISS Protection of Civilians sites in Juba following the conflict in South Sudan that broke out in mid-December 2013.
The service utilizes a quad bike that moves around the site playing the programs in dedicated public spaces, at “Listening Stops”, through speakers that are bolted to the bike. A USB flash drive with the twice weekly professionally produced program is plugged into speakers.
The people living in both UNMISS Tong Ping and UN House are provided with relevant, accurate, timely information, enabling them to make choices and decisions about their own lives. It updates the affected community on services and aid provided by various humanitarian agencies, and provides a platform for people to share their views and experiences with camp management.
The audio broadcast program is named Boda Boda Talk Talk (Boda Boda means motorbike taxi across much of Africa). To date nearly 40 programs have been researched, professionally produced and broadcast in Tong Ping, while nearly 15 have been produced in UN House. An estimated 200 listeners hear the program every day in each site at the pre-mapped “Listening Stops.” The service provides information in both sites to an estimated 30,000 people.
The program includes practical information about the water supply, health, food distributions, and raising awareness of things such as women’s and children’s potential increased vulnerability following the conflict. Each program also includes a feature story such as advice on how to prevent malnutrition, and how women can protect themselves from the increased risks to threats and violence as normal social protection mechanisms are not available.
A 3-minute drama – “Tong Ping Tales” and “Jebel Tales” – also helps communicate important issues. The first episode featured a young female character Asunta discussing with her friend Nyaluit the problems of leaving the site to grind their sorghum rations, donated by USAID. This has been an important issue because women must leave the UNMISS protection area to go to grinding mills outside in the main markets of Juba. A number of women have been spotted with USAID sacks and targeted for abuse, kidnap and attack.
The key messages in the drama include using a new plain sack to empty sorghum into when they leave the site, and going to the market in groups.
As an example of the success of the program, one woman who walked to the specialist women’s clinic in the site said she came because she heard about the service on Boda Boda Talk Talk.
The program also gives space to the community to share their personal messages, including messages of peace and encouragement, as well as opinions about issues at the site and the service available from the NGOs. Boda Boda Talk Talk acts as a useful accountability mechanism for the NGOs and community who use the service to gage the views of listeners.
“People are always telling us they like the program,” said Nyaw Gatkuoth Nyaw, the community officer who drives the Boda Boda Talk Talk bike. “When we had a program on International Women’s Day in particular one woman said she was humbled that we had acknowledged all the work of women.”
Boda Boda Listen Listen
As well as broadcasting at the listening stops, the program is also played to small and more dedicated listening groups. These include outreach workers, community mobilizers, hygiene and health promoters working with the various NGOs.
A large portable speaker has been given to the Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) clinic and a health promoter plays the program to patients in the waiting area.
Women Women Talk Talk
Women play a key role in the site, often behind the scenes as the primary caregivers. They are the key audience for the program with many health and protection issues particularly relevant to them. However, men dominate the leadership committee meetings and women often get information about the site from the men. Boda Boda Talk Talk is targeted at getting humanitarian information directly to women and young people in particular.
Only two of the approximately 200 applications received by Boda Boda Talk Talk’s recruitment process were from women. Nyaluit Zechariah was initially recruited as a monitoring and evaluations officer, but her skills as a community correspondent were quickly recognized, with women in particular opening up to speak freely to her.
Deborah Tut was hired after she appeared in program one as an actor in a Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) event after the construction of a latrine block in the site. Her strong character shone through in her interview, and after hearing her recorded voice a search was launched to try to find her. Deborah was a critical member of the team, writing episodes of the drama Tong Ping Tales together with Nyaluit. Deborah has now left to further her own education outside of South Sudan.
The success of Boda Boda Talk Talk, with 97% of people listening to the program, and with 40% of regular listeners stating they have changed their lives in some way after hearing the program, has created a demand for more Humanitarian Information Services (HIS) across the country. The program is due to roll out to a third Protection of Civilian site (POC3) – next door to UN House next week.
Internews’ work in South Sudan is supported by the US Agency for International Development.