On the night of Thursday 14 March, when cyclone Idai was on a course to hit Sofala province in Mozambique, Rodrigues Pedro Tembe, a technician with Radio Nhamatanda, volunteered to stay in his studio and protect the equipment. His wife and children went to a relative’s house on higher ground.
When the roof blew off and corrugated zinc sheets got entangled in cables, Tembe pulled them down. He moved the console and tried to keep things dry. In the morning, he went home. “I no longer had a home,” he said. “Gone.” The radio’s equipment was badly damaged but the antenna held on, although unstable. The team glued and tied and dried things, borrowed a microphone from a musician and headphones from a neighbour. When electricity returned to the town, which has around 30,000 inhabitants, they were ready. Radio Nhamatanda was the first community radio in Sofala province back on air on 28 March.
Days before the cyclone, the radio was giving disaster warning advice provided by the municipality. Keep the family together and inside. Secure the roof. Stock up on food and lanterns. Keep your cell phone charged and with you. Keep documents dry. Go to higher ground if needed. At the tented camp for people who lost their homes, a group of women recalled the information from the radio station “saved lives,” said Belita Antonio Redeno, 21, who fled to higher ground with her two young children. But not her husband, a fisherman, who was swept away by the swollen Pungwe River.
Radio Nhamatanda covers a radius of 75 kilometres across three districts, including the towns of Chimoio and Dondo, and has an estimated 194,00 listeners. With a team of 35 people, of whom five women, it transmits programmes in Portuguese, Sena and Ndau, from 6am to 9pm.
The CDAC Network project in Mozambique on communication and community engagement is funded by the H2H Fund, which is supported by UK aid from the UK government. For more information about the project contact: Mercedes.Sayagues@cdacnetwork.org