The RAN Team which included the RAN EA RI Lab Innovation Officer and RAN Engagement Manager visited pilot sites for the RootiO Community Radio that is under incubation in the EA RI Lab in Kitgum, Pabbo sub-county, and Oyam districts from December 16 – 18, 2015 to evaluate the Radio’s progress, find out how the community has embraced this radio technology and to establish if there any challenges that users are experiencing since the official launch. Once again, it was exciting to note the Towers and the Radio equipment were successfully installed in all the 4 pilot sites. The Radio was working well on the frequency band of 103.8.The community greatly appreciates the initiative and programs that are currently being broadcasted include; Health information messages, Environmental conservation tips, basic life skills, business advertisements, like farmers marketing their produce.
It was also interesting to note that local leaders were using this radio station to mobilize the community for meetings. In Pabbo, the Radio was estimated to reach about 22,000 people and in Kitgum about 500 people though it had not yet been officially launched in this sub-county. The Innovators of the Community Radio have shown great efforts towards partner engagement and these partners have been helpful in the pilot phase of the project including hosting the Radio Tower and the equipment. The partners include the Straight talk Foundation in Kitgum district, Pabbo sub-county office and Oyam sub-county office under the Youth Office. The Community Radio project team has also signed MOUs with some of these partners. Like any other Innovation that is being tested, the community was experiencing challenges using it in regards to decentralizing some of the functions of the Radio and building a robust content management mechanism.
All feedback from the community will be useful in the next iteration of the Community radio and will also help in solution refinement to adequately prepare this innovation for scale. The community was optimistic that this innovation has great potential to transform their lives and revolutionize the communication process at the grassroots, framers can easily get access to the markets, and they can use the radio to send out different messages but also to listen to music in their local language and to promote their own local artists. RAN is keenly supporting this innovation and very hopeful that it will soon be launched in other regions and other countries since it has proved a successful and powerful communication tool in the community. The RAN Team also visited the radio station in Kitgum District in Northern Uganda.