Distributing Radios in Sudan
Sudan is the largest country in Africa, one-third the size of the United States, and has only minimal infrastructure after decades of war. It is nearly impossible to reach rural areas with vital information, except via radio broadcasts.
IRD, in partnership with USAID and the National Democratic Institute, is bringing sturdy wind-up and solar-powered radios to the residents of Upper Nile state, one of the states on the still-contentious border between northern and southern Sudan. With these radios, residents will hear the latest developments in the peace process, and what their role is, rather than having to rely on rumors.
The radios pick up AM, FM, and two shortwave bands, and recipients are particularly encouraged to listen to a program called Let’s Talk, which focuses on the development of the new constitution, human rights, peace talks, and other governance issues. Let’s Talk is currently broadcast in English and Arabic, and will soon be translated into local languages such as Dinka and Nuer.
IRD will distribute a total of 16,000 radios across the state, allowing local leaders to select who in their community will have custody. A few groups are particularly targeted:
* - returning refugees and internally displaced people;
* - women;
* - traditional leaders;
* - demobilized soldiers; and
* - teachers.
Since not everyone in a given community will have a radio, residents are asked to form listening groups. In each group, 10-15 people gather to listen to Let’s Talk and then discuss the show afterwards. Groups are generally composed of the same ethnic group and are either all male or all female to allow for open discussion.
Demand for the bright blue radios is high, and people are very excited to receive them. “These are very important things you have given us,” says one woman in Baliet, a county seat in Upper Nile state. “They're important for peace.”