Deolinda Jose’s’ booming voice and lively personality make her an excellent story teller. And a powerful story she tells to listeners of Radio Gorongosa. “In my first pregnancy, I never saw a nurse and I gave birth at home. I was young, my mom and granny did not know any better. The baby was stillborn, rotting inside me. I nearly died of infection. I went on to have six healthy children, all born at the health centre. I say: if you are pregnant, do antenatal care and deliver at the health centre.”
Finding local people to tell their personal stories around health is one way Radio Gorongosa uses to make health issues riveting to its 60,000 listeners in Sofala province, in central Mozambique.
Another way is to chat with health technicians. On Saturday 20 April, a team from the Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities (CDAC) Network, the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) drove 140 kms from Beira through Sofala province to Gorongosa. Along the road the team saw wilted maize, destroyed bridges, collapsed huts, tent camps – the aftershocks of Cyclone Idai that hit Sofala in mid-March.
Being at the edge of Idai’s killer path, Gorongosa town suffered relatively less damage. One of the radio’s two antennas fell, knocking off 40 percent of its outreach. But as soon as power was restored, the radio was back on air. “We opened phones and mikes and relayed messages for people to find relatives and friends," recalls Radio Director Damiao Araujo.
Health presenter Carlos Machirica brought local health staff to chat about cholera, malaria and malnutrition with WHO nutritionist Edith Pereira and community engagement focal point Antonio Palazuela. The one hour programme was recorded in Portuguese and will be translated into the local language Chitume.
Community radios are key linchpins in Mozambique’s rural life. In this emergency, the radios warned people, gave protection tips, connected families, and now, in the recovery phase, help people build resilience and health.
ETC and CDAC assessed damages in 12 community radios in cyclone-hit areas. A team from First Response Radio put Radio Buzi back on air in four days. ETC is procuring antennas and other equipment. A number of community radios agreed to give a weekly hour of free air time for humanitarian actors, in Portuguese, to be translated into local languages as well. CDAC links radios with health experts to provide content for these programmes.
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 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Deolinda (in blue dress) talking to women reporters.