News / 24.02.2011

Vikes helps Tanzanian villages acquire community media

Said Swahalla, a community media activist has good news about the community media project supported by Finnish journalists’ organizations. The three-year project supported by the Finnish Foundation for Media, Communication and Development (VIKES) and the Finnish MFA has already managed to create an effective channel of influence for isolated southern Tanzanian villages.

There are two million people living in this undeveloped region but the commercial media are not interested in them.

Mtukwao Community  Media, with its headquarters in the town of Mtwara, has proved an excellent example when the government’s grandiose agriculture campaign was being finalized to meet the aspirations of farmers.

“We video-filmed speeches of the president and ministers delivered during the ceremony. These were shown in the villages through video links and at the same the reactions of farmers were filmed. We edited a dialogue from the material which was presented to decision-makers. Then we returned to the countryside to resume filming. Video communities created out of this method are the most effective way to react to problems. People are encouraged to voice their opinions and they develop the confidence they are being listened to”, says Said Swallah.

The production of community video usually emerges in village meetings where video comments are sought from local authorities about the issues arising from those meetings.

Completed documentaries have also been shown on national television channels.

The achievements of Community Media which operates as an NGO, is also observed in the increase of prices in cashew nut trade. Previously wholesale traders went to the villages and bought the harvests at rock-bottom prices. When the farmers informed the authorities on the situation through community media the trade was reorganized the producer price was doubled.

Mtuko Community Media has organized training courses in which professional journalists have trained young people from the area in video filming, editing and radio broadcasting skills. A youth network is being created in the villages which submits topics to the radio station to be.

“A goal is to start the operation of the radio station already this year. By our standards it is a big project in which technical equipment is needed as well as studio equipment and a transmitter. The coverage area will be 50-100 kilometres in an area where the existing radio channels are of poor reception or even has no reception at all”, says Swallah who visited Finland in February.

The visit brought more good news to those running Mtuko Community Media: YLE has agreed to donate studio equipment that is no longer in use to the radio station.

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