Building Capacities of Local Community Oriented Radio Stations in Uganda

Between July and November, 2014, twenty radio practitioners, representing twelve community oriented radio stations in Uganda, participated in a three-stage capacity building programme financially supported by the Dutch Foundation Stem van Afrika.

The overall programme is a “pilot project” implemented under the Communication Commission of the Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC), facilitated by Audience Dialogue, and coordinated by CAMECO.

The aim of the first step, a ten-day training workshop in Kampala (July 2014) on Audience Research principles and methodologies, was to enhance understanding of audience research as essential for taking informed decisions, enabling community oriented radio stations to flourish by better satisfying their audiences and stakeholders, generating income and becoming more sustainable. Furthermore, skills were shared on “how to do” audience research in the respective context of the specific stations. The latter was realised through various practical exercises, such as a small survey, a group discussion on an audio clip, and in-depth interviews. At the end of the workshop, each station presented a tentative Audience Research Plan.

The second stage of the programme was a field phase lasting from August to October, 2014. During this period, each radio station was distance monitored and supervised by Audience Dialogue. The ongoing and continuous sharing and exchange among the participants was further enhanced by the creation of an internal Facebook group.

All participating radio stations implemented a research activity at their individual stations, with variations, and produced (or at least started to produce) a report about results. These findings and the experiences gained during the implementation phase were ultimately shared and analysed in the third stage of the programme, a two-day networking/sharing meeting, which took place in November in Kampala.

The following positive points can be highlighted in connection with the programme: An official Call for Interest, with clear participation criteria and requirements, was launched ahead of the capacity building programme, ensuring that participants were well selected and their stations committed to actually implementing audience research. Besides, it was an enriching (and for some participants fully new) experience to bring together Catholic and non-faith based community oriented radio stations. Their mutual attendance initiated exchanges and even joint activities, going far beyond the workshop topic or occasion. For instance, as a result of the November meeting, participants established an “audience research interest group”, with five committee members from across Uganda, to continue joint measures on the topic.

CAMECO and Stem van Afrika are currently in the process of developing a concept on how the initial assistance can be expanded and further intensified. Additional capacity building measures (for probably a limited number of stations) might need to focus more on personalised, one-to-one consultations and on-site assistance. However, the overall concept and structure of the capacity building programme, with its various stages and steps so far, indicate that it will be an adequate and effective procedure, which might be worth repeating in the future, in other (African) countries.  (PS)