Internews Humanitarian Information Services Learning Collection
Publication Date

“Why is it important for people to have a radio, even if they may have access to other forms of media? What do they choose to listen to, and how does this information affect their daily lives? How do you design a radio distribution to maximize information access for a displaced community living in a camp, or in an area with many people on the move?”

This Radio Distribution Module contains the collective knowledge of the Internews South Sudan team gained over three years of conducting radio distributions within the United Nations Protection of Civilians sites (PoCs) and surrounding communities. This resource forms part of the Internews Humanitarian Information Services (HIS) Learning Collection, which communicates key lessons, best practices, and programmatic methodologies used by Internews’ humanitarian teams around the world (see Related Summaries below for other guides in this series).

Since the outbreak of conflict in South Sudan in late 2013, Internews has been working in the country to serve the information needs of the population through a series of activities. These include: a HIA named Boda Boda Talk Talk (BBTT), which Internews established in five PoC sites; three mobile "radio-in-a-box” stations; the creation of listening groups (particularly among females who generally have less access to information); and work with community and religious leaders (who are also identified as important sources of information) in order to prevent conflicting or contradictory messaging, ensure consistency, and improve quality control. Along with the production and dissemination of news and information, Internews also began distributing up to 40,000 wind-up solar-powered radio sets to communities across the country. As explained in the guide, “In South Sudan, nearly one-third of the population has never accessed any kind of media or communications device in their lifetime, whether radio, mobile phone, newspaper, television, or the internet. Education indicators for the country are amongst the worst in the world: the adult literacy rate is 27 percent, and 70 percent of children aged 6–17 years have never set foot in a classroom.” Distributing hand-held radios is therefore a critical and reliable strategy for increasing access to information and promoting the safety, security, and health of local communities and displaced populations.

Each section of the guide can be read on its own, and when combined together, the three parts of the Module give a holistic understanding of radio distribution projects in South Sudan, and what the Internews HIS team has learned over three years of implementation.

The three parts of this module are as follows:

Part I. Context - describes the information and media landscape in South Sudan and the continued prominence of radio in people’s lives. It summarises research on the importance of information access for health, education, and peacebuilding outcomes, and highlights Internews’ radio distribution activities in service of these aims.

Part II. Case Study - details radio distributions conducted in the Bentiu PoC and Malakal to expand information access and listenership for Boda Boda Talk Talk and Nile FM programmes. The case studies also include lessons learned, particularly the adaptive programming over time, in order to offer recommendations for future radio distributions.

Part III. How To Guide - provides a step-by-step methodology for procurement, planning, conducting, and monitoring a radio distribution in any location. It includes guidance on choosing a radio, selecting a distribution sample, various distribution methods, and monitoring and reporting on distribution.

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Internews website on September 9 2017.