Friday, May 24, 2013


By Cooh Odette Behn, camlink Douala A 3-days workshop ended at the Ocean City Radio Kumba in the south west region of Cameroon on 16th May 2013. The training was a platform for exchange between COL Cameroon link partnership initiative and the radio production staff on how to ameliorate the process of designing health programmes targeting pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. Welcome the facilitators and trainees, the Station Manager, Richard Shengang, it was a great learning opportunity for the volunteer-broadcasters, most of who are holders of a first degree but never received any training in journalism. He reminded the radio staff that the training had been announced in the CLP Cameroon plan during the training organized at the Women’s Empowerment Centre in Kumba last January 2013. Mr. James ACHANYI FONTEM, COL Cameroon link partnership liaison and key training resource person explained that the development of underprivileged communities and their wellbeing through healthy community initiative is the awaited outcome of open distance learning using community radio stations. Four community radio stations in four health districts of two regions in Cameroon have benefited from the training on radio story design programming on mother and child health care with special focus on breastfeeding. The southwest and west regions were selected for the start of the scaling up phase of the project in Cameroon. Infant and young child feeding and especially breastfeeding was agreed upon as the issue of discussion and investigation by the broadcasters. The resource person justified the choice with the fact saying, statistics have shown that only 20% of the Cameroonian women breastfeed their children exclusively for the first six months after delivery and there is a call for concern to improve on the rate through behavior change communication initiatives. Breastfeeding, he continued is a natural way that guarantees food security and safety of babies since it promotes attachment of baby to the mother and encourages normal growth. The trainees received some tips on how to come up with good and attractive programmes through formative research, involvement of the listeners who are the beneficiaries and health experts. The broadcasters were trained on the techniques of conducting face to face interviews with mothers, pregnant women and experts on the subject. Men and youths were also interviewed in the process to talk about their roles and how they contribute in assisting mothers. He added that throughout the process in Bonakanda, Medumba and Bare Bakem, programme coordinators were encouraged to exchange their productions with other community radios to increase variety of programmes on the issues treated. He observed that, this consequently leads to an increase in the radio audience. At each station the trainees went to the field in groups of four to practice what they learnt during the training and how to research for materials to build programmes. In Kumba, Group one treated the issue of exclusive breastfeeding, while group two tackled the issue of breastfeeding in emergency situations. In Bangangte, the programme focused on preparation of the world breastfeeding week in medumba langauge. The programme from Bonakanda was in pidgin and in Bare Bakem the programme was produced in French. The broadcasters talked to people in the hospitals, health centres, handicapped persons centre, food markets, administrative offices and the streets in the different localities. Kumba for example has a population of 600.000 inhabitants and 75% are farmers and over 60% are women involved in petit trading. Men interviewed approved of the fact that it is their duty to encourage their wives to breastfeed children and assist them at home, but very few accomplish their responsibilities. When the broadcasters returned to their stations, they were given the opportunity to exchange on the material gathering process, the difficulties faced in accessing information and how they resolved them. After editing the voices collected, the team members put their heads together to construct the script production and mixing. Speaking about difficulties, it was observed that many people are shy to speak when the recorder is shown to them. Some fear to make mistakes but were advised to speak in the language they master. On the other hand, some women think breastfeeding is a matter of choice and not a child right. A woman said, a person can chose to breastfeed or choose not to do so depending on the circumstance.. During the workshop evaluation, broadcasters expressed their satisfaction. Many said, the training got them not only to increase their knowledge on how to inform the public rightly through CLP, but they as learners benefited a lot on how to come out with good and attractive programmes. The polite and friendly approach, they stated, is one of the tools for collecting interviews. The trainees through the station managers, expressed their thanks and gratitude to the Commonwealth of Learning and Cameroon link for creating the great learning opportunity on how to develop health programmes on mother and child issues, A participant added that the knowledge gained will be useful throughout their lives. Certificates of participation were handed over to the trainees at the closing session on the third day of the workshop.

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