Trainees, Trainers, and Representatives of Angolares Management Committee, UNICEF, UNDP, and IA
2 November 2007
Sao Tome e Principe will shortly become one of the world’s newest oil producing states. However, there are some growing fears that if the coming era of oil is not managed with transparency and accountability, then existing socio-economic and political disparities could be exacerbated and Sao Tome e Principe could become a victim of the so-called “resource economy curse”. The international NGO, International Alert, for more than two years, has been seeking to widen the inclusion of population from the most marginalized communities to add their voices to the demands for a fair distribution of expected benefits and public accountability.
UNDEF, in partnership with UNDP, supports a two-year project entitled “Promoting Democracy and accountability in Sao Tome and Principe” implemented by International Alert. Ultimately, the project aims to increase communication and promote a more efficient flow of information both within and between some of the country’s most marginalised communities, thereby enabling the previously silent and voiceless to participate in the national discourse on the country’s future.
Activities planned within the context of this project include establishing two community radio stations, training youth journalists, mentoring professional journalists, and implementing a civic education programme—which includes the setting up of an information and advocacy facility.
The two communities selected for the establishment of community radio stations are Angolares and Neves, two towns in the most impoverished areas of the country. The objective of setting up radio stations in such communities is to afford the people the opportunity for their voices to be heard and to contribute to the national debate on governance from an informed perspective.
Angolares Radio Station
Upon receiving government authorization to begin the activity in Angolares, a community management committee was set up to oversee the activities and maintain the radio station. The management committee actively participated in identifying a location for and defining the character of the radio station. Subsequently, technical and programming consultants were contracted to physically set up the station and to work with 13 trainees, 9 coming from Angolares and 4 from Sao Tome City.
The training took place over two weeks, within which participants learned how to produce programmes aimed at target audiences. The programmes prepared by the trainees focus on subjects such as education, children’s rights, local culture, and the local indigenous language—which is in rapid decline. In addition, the training aimed to provide trainees with the technical capacity necessary to ensure the sustainability of the radio station. By the end of the training process, all trainees had acquired skills in interview techniques, production, and programming.
The radio set-up has already created a sense of ownership in a community
that has for long-time been marginalised. Through programming and use
of local languages the radio is expected to strengthen a sense of worth
and identity in the community, a prerequisite for self-help and development.
Following this path, the forthcoming establishment of the Neves community radio station will further contribute to installing a culture of open communication.