Farm Radio International broadcast partner, Lydia Ajono, has been involved with the Ghana Community Radio Network (GCRN) since it began in 1999. She has worked with community radio for many years. When she left high school, she joined a Radio Netherlands project in northern Ghana. Since then, she has been to the Netherlands for training, worked with the national media in Ghana, and been involved in international community radio projects.
She spoke with Farm Radio International from Bolgatanga, in northern Ghana. She was on her way to train some radio producers in programming. Like a radio professional, she described the scene before her with little prompting:
“I am standing on the edge of the market in Bolgatanga, next to some stalls selling woven baskets. It is quite noisy and there are donkeys in the market.”
Ms. Ajono works as a trainer with the Ghana Community Radio Network. There are two aspects to her role. First, she works with communities, using participatory methods to help them understand what community radio is, how to use it, and how to tune in and participate. She also trains staff on production and programming skills. She works with station staff, showing them how to research and develop programs. She passes on key skills, such as the story-based approach, which she learned through her involvement Farm Radio International’s AFRRI – the African Farm Radio Research Initiative.
There are currently 10 fully operational community radio stations in GCRN. Ms. Ajono says that 12 more are preparing to go on air, from all over Ghana. She has also been able to share her experiences with other African countries. In 2008, she travelled to Sudan to give training in support of a community radio network being set up in Southern Sudan. GCRN also has contacts with and supports community radio in Nigeria, Liberia, Uganda and Kenya. The Network accomplishes all this with a secretariat of five people and 10 volunteers.
Ms. Ajono wrote an award-winning script for our recent scriptwriting competition on smallholder innovation. Her script tells the story of a woman farmer who grows henna. As part of her prize, Ms. Ajono will take a trip to Argentina later this year to attend the tenth World Assembly of Community Radio Broadcasters, sponsored by the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC).
Radio is a very important tool that can challenge a community’s own development agenda. It is part of our cultural development and language, as it reflects people’s lives and identities. Radio can bring people together, says Ms. Ajono.
Click here to read Ms. Ajono’s award-winning script.