No fancy technology: why we mustn’t overlook the role of radio in peacebuilding

A radio outside of a home in Tongu District, Ghana on Wednesday,

“People huddle around community radios in the same way that we used to gather around the fire to hear news and swap stories.” These were the words of Rosalba Oywa, one of the founding members of ACTION and the driving force behind Peoples Voice for Peace in Gulu, Uganda. Participating in the third webinar organised as part of the Making All Voices Count project run by the ACTION Support Centre, Rosalba was contributing to a fascinating discussion involving partners from the Zanzibar Interfaith Centre, Coventry University Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, the Gauteng Local Peace Committees and PvP.

These webinars provide a useful opportunity to consolidate the partnership, update partners on any developments within the project and explore topics that have arisen during the action research and relationship building process. Organised by the ASC the webinar on the 16th March used Skype to bring in all of the partners voices.

The focus was on the role that community radio plays as an example of a technology that appears to enable more effective communications and contribute to extending the reach and influence of peacebuilding efforts.

In communities where literacy levels are low and resources scarce radio has become a cost efficient and effective way of communicating ideas and initiatives beyond the reach of the face-to-face communication that is still a lot more utilised than any forms of technology that have been introduced.

The details of the webinar discussion will feed into the research and partnership building of the project the ASC is coordinating. Entitled “From Early Warning to Response in Preventing Violence: Transforming Conflict through Citizen Engagement” the project will run at least until September of 2015 and will culminate in a research output that explores the use of technology as a tool for preventing violence. Initial research findings suggest that the role of technology is highly over-rated, especially in rural communities, and that relationships of trust and confidence between stakeholders is still the most effective element of any attempt to respond to violence and escalating tensions. In fact technology may even get in the way and make matters worse!

Photo by Gates Foundation on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0