Community Radio in Tanzania
By David Kattenburg
FADECO Community Radio (FRC 100.8 FM) is a community-based radio station in Karagwe District, Kagera region, NW Tanzania. It was launched by the Family Alliance for Development and Cooperation (FADECO), a grassroots NGO in Karagwe.
Radio FADECO’s mission is to stimulate rural development in Karagwe region by facilitating access to and dissemination of information, learning resources, and communication technologies. The station seeks to be “a voice for the voiceless,” offering its microphone to “marginalized” communities—including the poor, women and children’s groups, the handicapped, and HIV-AIDS sufferers.
FRC 100.8 FM took to the airwaves in 2007, following almost a decade of grassroots organizing work. A March 2009 document lays out the following station objectives:
- To develop into a fully-fledged community multimedia tele-centre, offering easy access to and a channel for the dissemination of information to the Karagwe community via the Internet, local content generation, and radio broadcasting;
- To promote space for increased and meaningful participation in national/regional poverty eradication plans;
- To provide a forum for the exchange of ideas on rural development;
- To encourage and promote good governance, democracy, civility, and human rights;
- To help rural communities uphold and preserve their cultures (indigenous knowledge, practices and traditions), while living harmoniously and conserving the environment.
Radio FADECO’s target groups include community development workers, local government, schools and vocational colleges, health facilities, and regional NGOs, farmers, businessmen, livestock managers, and micro-finance institutions. A board of seven—assisted by fourteen committee members representing various community constituencies—governs the station. A four-member board is responsible for staff recruitment, training, evaluation, and other station ownership matters.
Radio FADECO’s program schedule includes daily news, market reports, and sports updates, and programs of widely varying nature: arts, culture, and history; women and youth; governance; human rights; agriculture; the environment, education, health; science and technology; entertainment and faith.
FRC 100.8 FM broadcasts from 5.00 A.M. to midnight, to a potential audience of over 1.5 million in the four districts of Karagwe, Missenyi, Bukoba and Muleba (all in Kagera Region, NW Tanzania). The station can also be heard in neighboring borders districts in Uganda (Mbarara, Rakai and Masaka) and Rwanda (Kibungo, Rusumo).
With the enrichment of its programming in mind, FRC 100.8FM has partnered with the BBC Swahili Service, the Swahili Service of Radio Deutche Welle, the Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC), Radio Habari Maalum (RHM), and with the Vancouver, Canada-based Commonwealth of Learning. FRC 100.8 FM has partnered with Farm Radio International, and its affiliated Africa Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI).
FRC 100.8 FM listeners participate actively at various levels through fans clubs, salam clubs (greetings clubs), live phone-ins, text-ins, and round-table panel discussions.
FRC 100.8 FM’s greatest challenges are technical. The station transmits at a power of 50W, using a single dipole antenna. Coverage is therefore much smaller than they would wish. Reception in valley bottoms and behind high hills can be difficult. Another challenge is staffing. It is difficult to entice qualified journalists and radio people to come and work in a rural setting.
Radio FADECO earns most of its revenue through advertising, supplemented by short-term contracts and program sponsorships. But making ends meet is still a challenge. Given the benefits of radio, its relative ease of operation and considerable impact, FRC 100.8 FM is pressing forward in a number of areas. Developing in-house production capacity and increasing its power output top the agenda.