In pictures: celebrating community radio in DR Congo

Greg Funnell

To commemorate World Radio Day, we offer a glimpse into a thriving network of community radio clubs in eastern DR Congo. Scroll through the photo series from photographer Greg Funnell to see how the local radio is saving lives and building livelihoods in the region.

In war torn DR Congo, the 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 projects across North Kivu. CRC helps establish the clubs, of which there are now 119, 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.

Radio is a powerful tool for getting out such information in a region with little internet access and low levels of literacy.

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 unecessarily flee their homes.

And 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.

The clubs are now at the centre of community development and peace, running projects ranging from motorcycle repair to programmes caring for displaced people and vulnerable young people.

 

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

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