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Community radio helps voice life-saving messages in flood-affected areas of Gaza province

© UNICEF Mozambique / M-C. Mukangendo
Ms. Teresa Zita, Coordinator of Xai-Xai Community Radio, interviewing Linda, a flood survivor and current resident of the Tomamine resettlement camp in Gaza.

GAZA, Mozambique – 21 March 2011 – Before, during and after the January 2011 floods in Mozambique, Communication for Development (C4D) activities supported by UNICEF Mozambique were initiated and scaled up across the flood-affected provinces. These C4D activities reach people with life-saving messages in the localities where they reside at any given time, through a mix of different media and communication tools. The messages include information about water, sanitation and hygiene practices in a flood situation.

“It was a very hot and humid morning when the Coordinator of the Community Radio of Xai-Xai, Ms. Teresa Zita and I left for the recently established resettlement camp of Tomanine, in Guijá district in Gaza province,” says Marie-Consolée Mukangendo, UNICEF Communication for Development Specialist, as she tells the story of the visit to the camp. Ms. Zita’s goal that morning was to interview residents of the resettlement camp and broadcast their stories on the community radio.

Community radios in Gaza province and other provinces, as well as Radio Mozambique (RM), the national broadcaster, have been broadcasting live programmes on health issues, like the prevention of cholera and malaria, and on other important issues, like child rights in emergencies, and continued to do so during the time of the floods. They aired radio spots at least three times a day that informed and sensitized the communities and tried to reach all flood-affected families.

When the radio team arrived in the Tomanine resettlement camp, a group of women with babies on their laps were sitting in a circle waiting for food assistance and other help to arrive. The presence of a person from the community radio generated curiosity and excitement and broke the daily routine. Linda, a young woman in her thirties, was asked by the community leader to share her story with the radio listeners. Being on the radio was a new experience for her, and she looked frail and shy. The community radio coordinator took Linda aside to record an interview. Linda was asked about how and under which conditions she had reached the resettlement camp. She explained that at the beginning of the flooding she was reluctant to leave her house and that she did not know a whole lot about the flood situation in her district. The water continued to rise, however, and she was forced to leave her house and look for shelter elsewhere.

“I arrived here on the eighteenth of January, right at the beginning of the floods, along with my three children,” said Linda.

© UNICEF Mozambique / M-C. Mukangendo
Linda and her son Nelcio, sitting by their tent in the Tomanine resettlement camp.

Linda and her family had been caught off guard by the rising water and were advised by the community leader to seek refuge on higher ground.

“My 11-year old daughter was almost swept away by the intensity of the water!” she said, pointing to the broken bridge were they had crossed, a location on the low-lying land were the river passes.
“I had water up to the hips - reaching the other side of the river and this settlement saved our lives,” Linda explained, still shaken by the experience.

During the interview, Linda mentioned that when they arrived in the camp, they did not have access to radio or other means of communication that would have enabled the affected families to get up-to-date information on the flood situation. She expressed a wish that all camps would have radios and that they would be available in a future situation.

During emergencies, and for some time afterwards, the people affected by them usually have millions of questions and are desperate for information. In many cases, they do not understand what has happened, what to do next and whether there is still any danger. These are questions in need of answers. Having a community radio that meets their information needs helps the affected families and their communities stay up to date on what is happening. Radio also plays a key role in bringing community members together to discuss the issues that affect them.

For more information, please contact:

Arild Drivdal, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email: maputo@unicef.org

Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email: maputo@unicef.org

 

 
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