From 2010 to 2012, the Community Sustainable Development Initiative (CSDI) worked to design and implement a communication component to support agricultural and forestry research and extension activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) project "Rehabilitation Programme of the National Agricultural and Forestry Research System of the Democratic Republic of Congo," the CSDI project also worked with rural radios platforms such as Radio Ntemo and Vu Vu Kieto, and with community farmer organisations.
According to CSDI, the DRC faces institutional constraints which hamper agricultural development. Many agricultural policies and programmes adopted earlier were abandoned or only partially implemented, due to lack of resources, low involvement of local populations, and weak institutional capacity (human resources). The project developed a Communication Action Plan (CAP) designed to identify actors, beneficiaries, and media for the dissemination of messages on cassava and agro-forestry innovative technologies, previously identified by researchers and the sharing of knowledge between different actors. The project also trained the operators of Radio Ntemo and Radio Vu Vu Kieto in the pilot zone of Bas Congo on communication methods and approaches in order to inform farmers on cassava growing, agro forestry, and climate change, as well as to collect local experiences and traditional knowledge.
The project identified rural radio stations as a dissemination medium because they are popular, and meet the needs of the rural populations, as they address community development issues in local languages. Special attention is placed on gender problems, and for this reason CSDI collaborates with FAO's DIMITRA project, a participatory information and communication project which contributes to improve rural populations’ and in particular women’s visibility.
Based on a preliminary analysis of the project's objectives and those of the CSDI, the following possible strategic activities were identified:
- ensure increased collaboration between research and farmers;
- develop access of farmers to the market to obtain information on prices, financial support, and transportation;
- ensure linkages between farmers, coops, and organisations to create knowledge sharing on lessons learned;
- increase the sharing of information to increase trade between countries; and
- ensure visibility for the project at the regional level.
A second phase of the project focused on strengthening knowledge on communication at the institutional level. The strategy includes a Letter of Agreement (LoA) with Institut Facultaire des Sciences de l'Information et de la Communication (IFASIC) to create a platform for rural radio stations and to train its operators on communication for development. Following a formal request by the Institut National pour l'Étude et la Recherche Agronomique (INERA), CSDI will collaborate with the Ministries of Agriculture, Research and Rural Development to increase knowledge on communication for food security and climate change, and to support research and extension systems in the country.
CSDI identified further improvements needed by the radio station partners. These included training of technical staff and journalists on participatory appraisal and planning for better understanding of farmers' needs and for the appropriate dissemination of messages; improved logistics for broadcasting to ensure good communication with rural populations; and the development of new programmes in rural radio on climate change, food security, agroforestry, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Community Sustainable Development Initiative (CSDI), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Radio Ntemo, Vu Vu Kieto
CSDI website on December 18 2012. Photo credit: F. Matteoli .