Thanks to the success of our first two pilot phases focused on distribution, and to a new grant from the Oak Foundation, we are now training our journalists in the production of our podcast format in the Congo.
Earlier this year, MMW and its Congolese partner SOFEPADI completed two highly successful pilot projects focused on Wamama Tujenge’s podcast distribution using Listening Centers and Bluetooth transfers on mobile phones. Working together, we reached 8,000 women in Kinshasa and in the Eastern Provinces of the DRC.
By producing four episodes (in three languages) of our dynamic program, DRC listeners heard from women’s rights defender Julienne Lusenge, who discussed the participation of women in local government and peace-building. These first two phases proved that we could reach large audiences using our concept of listening centers run by Focal Points and Bluetooth sharing.
Our programs were especially appreciated in the South and North Kivu areas of Eastern Congo as well as those of Ituri, where women continue to deal with conflict and now a new Ebola crisis as well as a tense national election.
Our Focal Points promoted dialogue and exchanges of experiences between the Congolese women gathered to listen to our Wamama Tujenge programs, and many told stories of their lives and shared their testimonies.
The statistics for the second pilot project, lasting six months, are impressive. At 11 Listening Centers we had 5,812 direct listeners and 490 Bluetooth transfers. Only 960 listeners had phones, and of those, only 528 had phones with memory cards.
All listeners were asked to identify topics for future episodes. The most popular response was family planning, and following this was prevention of Ebola virus, matrimonial succession and property laws, political participation of women, the Ujana phenomenon in Kinshasa (aggressive policing of underage prostitution), management of menopause and dowry laws.
Due to our early success, the Oak Foundation has graciously offered to fund phase three that will test the production of further episodes of Wamama Tujenge using mobile production units (MPUs). An MPU is an assembly of small consumer electronics powered by solar energy that create professional-quality audio programs and means we would no longer rely on the availability of a sound studio for our programming needs.
The project runs from October 2018 to February 2019 and will involve the training of our Congolese journalists to replicate the template and style of the original programs.
Phase three is being led by Jean Mbweki Kibuo, who travelled to Sierra Leone in 2017 and trained with our team there in the Media Matters for Women concept. According to Jean, “We in the DRC are facing a very important upcoming national election for president. The new podcasts we are creating will focus on the candidates’ points of view on their motivation to apply, their platforms, and most importantly how they intend to increase the participation of women in decision-making bodies at local, national and provincial levels.”