BBC Media Action's blog

What are the challenges facing young people in East Africa?

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Originally posted on the BBC Media Action Insight blog by Alasdair Stuart on November 3 2016 - Alasdair Stuart shares the challenges faced by young people in Tanzania, Somalia and Kenya and outlines how they themselves think the media can help.

“Life becomes better for just a few – your neighbour owns ten cars but you don’t even own a bicycle.” (Arusha, Tanzania)

“Adults, the government, businessmen and parents have no confidence in us to bring new ideas or trust us in doing thing.” (Puntland, Somalia)

“Extremist groups are an option for some young people because they are fed up with the hardships of life.” (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) 

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Coming out about indoor pollution in Ethiopia

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Author: BBC Media Action's Andrey Vladov, November 3 2016 - A new radio drama is helping improve people’s health in Ethiopia by drawing attention to the harmful effects of traditional ways of cooking, heating and lighting homes.

“Bring that wood over here and make some fire in the room!” Although the woman can see the smoke has already made her daughter’s eyes “so red, they’re like pepper”, her voice is so commanding that disobeying her is unthinkable.

These are actors taking part in BBC Media Action’s new radio drama and they’re more than convincing.

After barely two months on air, Golaafala (meaning ‘solution from within’ in Ethiopia’s Oromiffa language) is already one of the most popular shows on ORTO (Oromia Radio).

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We need more media coverage of disaster prevention

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Author: Marcus Oxley, October 20 2016 - Marking International Day for Disaster Reduction, Marcus Oxley argues that we need more media coverage of disasters before – rather than after – they happen. This would make prevention more of a priority, allowing more people to ‘live to tell’.

After big disasters, the world responds with compassion for the victims and the humanitarian assistance machine kicks into gear. National and local governments respond with rescue operations. Other countries offer assistance. International NGOs deploy personnel and provide shelter, food and basic health services. Local and international media show images of the destruction and share victims’ appeals for support with the world. The international public responds with donations to alleviate the suffering of their fellow human beings.

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"In my next life I want to be a boy"

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Author: Ragini Pasrichan, October 20 2016 - Why we chose “real people” instead of actors to feature in our Public Service Announcements (PSAs), TV adverts sharing simple solutions to prepare for cyclones, flooding and drought.

“In my next life I want to be a boy because they can do anything they like”, said the 15-year-old girl.

Then, looking at me, she added: “I too want to own a mobile phone, have short hair and wear jeans. Tell me how I can become like you.”

It was a poignant cry for voice and a self-determined identity which opened my eyes to a world full of opportunities for boys, where elder brothers are the disciplinarians of sisters and a girl owning a mobile phone is something to be ashamed of.

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Announcements (PSAs), TV adverts sharing simple solutions to prepare for cyclones, flooding and drought.

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Author: Myoset Nyeinchan, October 20 2016 - Why we chose “"real people" instead of actors to feature in our Public Service Announcements (PSAs), TV adverts sharing simple solutions to prepare for cyclones, flooding and drought.

When her husband ran away with another woman, 35 year old Thin Thin Aye was left alone in her small palm-leaf house with eight children to feed.

Standing in a dark room flanked by rickety floorboards and broken walls, she tells us what she fears most is the unpredictable weather in the delta region of Myanmar.

“What I’m worried about is not only wind and rain. We live near by the sea and we don’t have protection when the water level rises,” she said.

As a daily worker earning $3 to $4 a day, she can’t afford to strengthen her delicate bamboo house or to stockpile food in advance of Myanmar’s cyclone season from May to September, where violent storms rip across the country.

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"I will be there even if my bodyguards refuse to accompany me."

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Author: Shirazuddin Siddiqi, October 10 2016 - Scores of people were killed or injured early last month when twin bomb blasts hit Kabul and armed assailants attacked the buildings housing an international charity.

We were due to record an episode of our discussion show Open Jirga the next day on the theme of ‘empowered women, prosperous Afghanistan’. Given the uncertainty of the security situation, our producers worried whether anyone would attend. The chances of the recording going ahead seemed slim.

Staff, whose day started at 5am, faced huge logistical challenges. They needed to ferry members of the studio audience, who were staying in a hotel, safely through the city to Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA) - the country’s national broadcaster. Kabul’s roads were completely blocked by a tight security cordon. Fighting was still going on and security forces had cordoned off large areas of the city. 

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Getting data on the lives of ordinary people in the developing world

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Authors: Kavita Abraham Dowsing and Sonia Whitehead, October 10 2016 - Ahead of the launch of BBC Media Action’s data portal in October, Kavita Abraham-Dowsing and Sonia Whitehead explain why we need more data about the views, aspirations and challenges of ordinary people in the developing world.

What’s the biggest concern of a mother of four living in rural Bangladesh? What does a young man looking for work in Freetown most want for his future? What are their opinions on issues like the environment and their government? Who do they trust?

It’s often known what governments are worried about, but it’s a lot more difficult to find out about the lives of ordinary people in the developing world. This is in contrast to places like the UK and USA, where the media is awash with statistics from a new poll or survey of the general public.

Data’s everywhere but isn’t about everyone

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I have 140 friends, and I speak to them nearly every day

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Author: BBC Media Action's Caroline Chukwura, September 28 2016 - Growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, I had a pen pal far away in Nice, France. I was always excited to receive letters from her – I remember we bonded over photos of our home towns and discussions about our pets. She had dogs, while I had a parrot and 40 pigeons.

I’m older now, and have a daughter of my own whom I hope will have pen pals soon. But just because I’m an adult doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy being in touch with people far away. In fact, I do it daily as part of my work – although my pals are all in Nigeria, and mobile calls and text messages have replaced pen, paper and stamps.

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What big international development events are still to come in 2016?

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Author: BBC Media Action's Melanie Archer, September 29 2016 - 2016 has been a busy year so far. The World Humanitarian Summit took place in Istanbul while the British Government hosted a major anti-corruption conference. But the year’s not over yet and the next few months hold a lot in store. Here are some autumn (and early winter) highlights from the international development calendar.

September

19th: UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants | #UN4RefugeesMigrants

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The TV drama helping improve the health of garment factory workers in Bangladesh on their lunch break

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Author: Dr Faisal Mahmud, September 28 2016 - Garment factory workers in Bangladesh are watching screenings of a health drama during their lunch breaks to help improve their - and their children’s health.

Rows of factory workers in colourful dress sit attentively looking up at flickering images cast on the wall by a purring projector. Many of the clothes they produce make their way to high-street shops in Europe and America.

They are sitting comfortably on fabric-covered benches watching Ujan Ganger Naiya (Sailing Against the Tide), a television drama designed to help improve child and maternal health in Bangladesh.

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