Ghana’s vibrant broadcast media landscape has some of the most result-oriented community radio stations in Africa. There are more than 12 very serious community radio stations in Ghana making impact in rural areas in the country. One of the leading community radio stations in Ghana is Radio Ada. This station has been broadcasting since 1999.
Radio Ada is one of four stations that took part in a unique project that explored the use of radio programmes to provide rural farmers with agriculture information and education. The project which was called; African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI) was launched in 2007 by Farm Radio International, with support from the foundation.
Radio Ada is a community radio station that works to enable marginalised communities and groups in Ghana to do the following: generate and share their knowledge and experience; participate in discourse and decision-making; develop the richness of their culture; and strengthen their communities as part of the national and global family. The station also works to promote culture, identity, and community by broadcasting in the local language, addressing family and marriage issues, and creating a forum for community members to announce communal activities.
Radio Ada is located in Ada in the Dangme East District, southeastern Ghana and broadcasts to four Dangme-speaking districts which cover a population of approximately 600,000 people of whom 60% are non-literate. The radio staff is comprised of approximately 50 full-time and part-time volunteers, all of whom come from the four Dangme districts. Commit.com provides an indepth analysis of how Radio Ada operates as presented below;
According to Radio Ada, their approach to broadcasting is participatory and grounded in the needs and identities of the Dangme-speaking audience. The station’s programmes are developed and produced with the active participation of people in the respective communities. Radio Ada also uses a broadcasting technique called “narrowcasting” to reach the different occupation-based groups within the four Dangme Districts. The occupation-based groups are comprised of farmers, fishermen, fishmongers who are exclusively women, breadmakers, taxi drivers, and tailors. Each week, a 30-minute radio programme is recorded with the specific occupation-based group and then re-broadcast later in the week. These groups determine the content of their own programmes and act as co-producers. For example, Radio Ada has created opportunities for voice and dialogue amongst fishermen and women fishmongers. The fishmonger programme producer would visit a different fishing community each week, gather together the fishmongers from that community to ask them questions about their fish smoking work, and facilitate a discussion on issues of importance to them. A 30-minute version of the discussion is later broadcast on Radio Ada. The fishmongers are therefore communicating with the men in their community, and men from all communities are listening to the women over the airwaves.
In a bid to involve and ensure a community voice in its operations, Radio Ada has trained about 500 people in various broadcast skills, which include programme recording, producing and delivering the news, marketing, music programming, and programming on conflict prevention.
As part of its programming, Radio Ada also tackled the poor treatment of physically challenged people through the “Advocacy through Radio” project. This was an initiative financed by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), which, according to organisers, contributed significantly to changing attitudes towards the disabled in the communities.
The station also plays a role in conflict resolution in the community. The station gives the community the space and opportunity to talk about burning issues that create conflict and to resolve their problems peacefully. For example, Radio Ada has resolved conflicts over cultural issues between churches and traditional worshippers in the district.
According to Radio Ada, community radio can play an important role in poverty reduction. Access to voice, information, and knowledge is vital in facilitating poverty reduction and sustainable human development, as voicelessness is a key dimension of poverty and exclusion. For many, Radio Ada is the only source of information; they have no television and more than 50% of the 600,000 in the station’s broadcast range are illiterate. Community radio is also being used in the effort to create national functional literacy.
Research suggests that through Radio Ada’s advice programmes, husbands and wives in Anyakpor are learning how to communicate and respect each other, which is helping to reduce household quarrelling and abuse. For example, men are learning to share money with their wives and learning how to explain to their wives that they have no money to share with them. They are realising that they should discuss problems with their wives rather than becoming angry and resorting to abuse. Women are learning how to respect their husbands, but also how to offer critical advice or approach them for help.