World Radio Day marks a time where people around the world celebrate radio and how it shapes our lives. Radio brings people and communities together from all backgrounds to foster positive dialogue for change. Radio is the perfect medium to promote dialogue and debate; a platform for exchange and the opportunity to raise awareness among listeners of important issues. In conflict-affected communities, radio can provide life-saving information or warnings of attacks, and counter the appeals for violence.
In war torn DR Congo, the simple tool of radio is having a powerful effect for local communities suffering because of war and instability.
Amid devastating violence, local radio clubs are becoming the centre of a movement driving peace and saving lives.
On Sunday nights across the region of North Kivu in the east of DR Congo, groups of dedicated presenters gather in radio studios.
They meet not to discuss national news nor to work their way through the music charts. Instead, the stations provide their communities with life-saving information on local issues, ranging from the latest advances in agricultural techniques to warnings of attacks from militias.
The community radio clubs are run by proactive individuals like Nzaza, Nostalgie (above) and Neema (below).
They have been trained by Centre Résolution Conflits (CRC), a local organisation working on community-led peace projects across North Kivu. CRC helps establish the clubs, finding enthusiastic community members, offering training in leadership and broadcasting and providing equipment.
The clubs then present on issues directly affecting their communities and give their listeners a chance to call in and contribute, with presenters holding mobile phones next to their microphones.
The trained presenters share tips on resolving personal conflicts, helping community members bring disputes between parents and children, wives and husbands to peaceful conclusions.
The broadcasts also serve as a warning system, with alerts sent out when attacks from militia groups are known to be imminent. This reliable source of information reduces the potency of false rumours spread about attacks which can cause people to unnecessarily flee their homes.
Radio has proven to be a powerful organising tool. Such effective circulation of information has allowed the clubs to found an astonishing number of social action projects in their communities.
When poverty is a key driver of conflict in DR Congo, the radio clubs have encouraged over 840 listeners to create their own self-help initiatives such as a local literacy centre; building community resilience and improving livelihoods.
The radio clubs of North Kivu are tapping into the power of radio and local community action. They have become a powerful force in the fight for peace in eastern DR Congo.
The photos in this article were taken by Greg Funnell. You can view more of his work at http://www.gregfunnell.com/index.