Community radio reduces violence against children

Community radio program reduces violence against children and helps people get support in Tanzania

A radio presenter interviewing a UNICEF staff member about violence against children in the Ileje FM studio community radio station.
18 July 2022

“Child neglect continues to be a huge problem in Ileje District. Some parents give their babies a local brew to put them to sleep, so they don’t disturb them and cry when they are hungry. The parent will then go to the farm or other duties while the baby is fast asleep, drunk, on the local brew”

Ileje FM community radio station manager, Maoni Mbuba

According to the staff at Ileje FM, the community is aware of violence against children, and cases of violence are reported to the station. Radio station staff work closely with the Ileje District Office and share reported cases with them to ensure victims get the support they need. The Ileje FM reporters cover many stories on violence against children, and always make sure they provide feedback to listeners on how the cases were handled. This practice has motivated community members to report more on cases of violence and abuse against children.

Ileje FM, which is on air 24/7 and is the only station available in Ileje District, Songwe Region, is heard across many districts in the region and neighbouring regions and is even heard in parts of Malawi and Zambia. Recognizing that radio remains a key source of information for most community members, many of which do not have internet access, UNICEF, the Tanzania Communication and Development Center, and community member contributions are financially supporting the radio station to advocate for key messages on the protection of the rights of girls and boys. 

The station has a total of 10 staff, with three having been trained in child protection. These three staff also participated in the training for women and children protection committees under the National Plan of Action to End Violence against Women and Children (NPA-VAWC). As well as guidance and counselling training, targeting teachers to enable them to produce more informed radio programmes.  

According to Mbuba, the station has conducted informal research and found that cases of child marriage, teen pregnancy, sodomy against boys, rape of girls, and neglect are the most prominent protection issues facing children in Ileje District. Consequently, they worked closely with the social welfare officer to develop a weekly programme to educate the community.  

The station manager, Maoni Mbuba, has been with Ileje FM - a community radio station in Tanzania - since it was first established five years ago.
The station manager, Maoni Mbuba, has been with Ileje FM - a community radio station in Tanzania - since it was first established five years ago.

“The programme educates the community on violence against children and tells them that all children are equal and have the right to an education. Since we started airing it, we have noticed the number of cases is decreasing, and more students are finishing grade seven and proceeding with their education, whereas before they would get married off by their parents. The norm here is girls get married off, and the boys are sent to be shepherds. But now you see parents and caregivers have a better understanding and are keeping their girls and boys in school”.

Maoni Mbuba

When the radio station airs live programmes with technical experts from the Ileje District Office, they receive many calls and text messages from listeners. The station manager stated that they often receive testimonies from community members about changing their behaviours and attitudes from listening to the radio programmes. Throughout the day, the station airs a jingle sponsored by the Ileje District Office and UNICEF, which encourages community members to report violence against children and guides them on how to do it. The jingle ends with a statement saying that ‘Ileje without violence is possible.’ 

Ileje FM is faced with several challenges, including having limited technical and audio recording equipment to help produce programmes and for reporters to write their stories. The reporters also use their money to pay for motorcycle taxis because the station does not own any transportation.

Radio continues to be a dominant source of information for Tanzanians, and going forward, the staff noted that they need to increase their efforts in educating the community on violence against women, which is also happening in high numbers in the district.  

Maoni Mbuba is now recognized in the community as an ambassador for addressing violence against children. He asserted that “we need to keep using our radio station as a bridge with the community and district office to work together closely to prevent and respond to violence against women and children”.