Doctor in Information and Communication Sciences, Jean-Pierre Ilboudo is a radio journalist by training. He has taught radio techniques in Germany and Burkina Faso, as well as Communication Sciences. He also served as Head of the Study Service at the Inter-African Centre for Rural Radio Studies of Ouagadougou (CIERRO).
In his present position, Jean-Pierre Ilboudo is a Communication for Development Officer, at the Extension, Education and Communication Service (SDRE), FAO, Rome, Italy. For the French-speaking as well as the Portuguese-speaking countries of Africa, his present responsibilities include the :
Jean-Pierre Ilboudo has written and published numerous articles, studies, manuals and other works in the field of communication for development, and rural radio, in particular: "Participatory and Interactive Methodology for Rural Radio" (Rome, 2000); "Strategies to Relate Audience Research to the Participatory Production of Radio Programmes" (London, 1999); "Communication Policies and Strategies for Development (Established Methodologies and Teachings): Seven Years of FAO Experience in French-and Portuguese-Speaking Africa" (Rome, 2000); "How to Create and Produce Educational Communication Tools" (in collaboration with J-Y Clavreul, Rome 1998); "Contribution on Rural Radio" (Rome, 1998); "Communication and Development" (Cologne, 1995), on "Community-Type Local Radio, the Case of the Mali-South Area" ( A new publication, presently being prepared).
Since 1966, FAO has been engaged in the development of rural radio, particularly in Africa (meetings in Giseiny and Moshi to institutionalise the radio forums in French- and English-speaking Africa, carried out in collaboration with UNESCO).
During the course of these thirty-five years, our organisation's support has covered a number of different domains, namely, training, the creation of rural radio stations, and the development of methodologies and strategies for the use of radio in development.
This paper will, at the outset, emphasise the milestones that have, from a historical point of view, marked the important periods of FAO's intervention in this area, as well as the experiments carried out in the field, in Congo Brazzaville, Mauritania, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Central Africa, Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Cape Verde, and the Congo Democratic Republic.
It will illustrate FAO's philosophy and intervention methodologies in relation to the use of these interactive communication and social investigation tools, within the framework of a participatory approach.
The organisation of this International Workshop on Farm Radio Broadcasting at our headquarters in Rome, allows us to focus on the new opportunities provided by rural radio, and information and communication technologies. The occasion also to consider some subjects that are of vital importance to our rural communities, but which are unfortunately seldom included in the programming schedules of African rural radio stations.
I am referring to:
These are some of the subjects which the workshop will deal with, under the auspices of the World Agricultural Information Centre (WAICENT), which provides the hypermedia information systems on key subjects such as agriculture, nutrition, fishery, forestry, sustainable development, as well as the question of gender disparities in agriculture. WAICENT also provides specialised information systems with regard to important global subjects such as desertification, gender and sustainable development, food standards, animal genetic resources, post-harvest operations, agricultural biological diversity and food supply systems in urban centres.
The paper also deals with the very recent experiment, which FAO is carrying out, in Mali, in the area involving the application of the information and communication technologies in rural development, namely, connecting radio stations to the Internet, and becoming aware of peoples' needs, in order to be able to meet these needs by placing at their disposal the appropriate material, within the framework of the Timbuktu multipurpose community telecentre.
A) FAO'S EXPERIENCE IN THE RURAL RADIO AREA
B) FAO EXPERIENCE IN COMBINING ICTS AND RURAL RADIO AND IN THE MULTIPURPOSE COMMUNITY TELECENTRES
The FAO Extension, Education and Communication Service has from the very outset considered rural radio, particularly in Africa, as the most privileged medium available to rural communities, to enable them to have the appropriate instruments to have access to useful information and knowledge, to carry out a dialogue and debate among themselves, and with their partners, and to share their experience, their knowledge and their techniques.
Rural radio is a vital communication tool in African countries.
Created and established approximately three decades ago, this form of radio has become increasingly familiar, loved and used by the local populations. It is, in point of fact, no longer foreign to the day-to-day life of rural peoples. It promotes the exchange of views, brings people closer together, stimulates information, and enhances the value of local know-how.
Thanks to rural radio, people can familiarise themselves with their environment, and with socio-economic and social health care problems as they evolve. Rural radio also allows them to become better informed, and to better understand the world around them. In this manner, they can more easily participate in the different development programmes, and become more involved in those activities which allow them to become creative.
Rural radio, at the present time, is no longer satisfied with attempting to merely sensitise people, but with helping them to free their means of expression, to bring their experiences to the fore, and to share their social and cultural values. After their experience with radio clubs, with farm radios which had varying measures of success, and with the first generation of rural radios whose results were less than brilliant, the countries of Africa, thanks primarily to international cooperation, are now devoting themselves to more vigorous forms of expression in the area of rural radio. These forms of expression have renewed the approach methodology, and the practice of communication.
From now on, the accent that had previously been placed on educational aspects will give way to the interactive dimension, and to mutual support. In brief, it is the entire communication process that has been enhanced, as well as the present means of operating. Whereas the old system had been based upon a thematic approach, the new rural radio formula hews to the principle of integration, and seeks a global approach.
Thanks to the cooperation provided by FAO and its partners, namely, CIERRO (Inter-African Centre for Rural Radio Studies of Ouagadougou), UNESCO, the GTZ, UNICEF, the CTA (Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Development), the FORD FOUNDATION, the IDRC (International Development Research Centre), as well as the cooperation organisations of the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, etc., rural radio has found a new vigour, by centring its activities on a local level, and by adopting innovative new regulatory, juridical and institutional provisions.
These provisions tend to increasingly bestow upon rural radio its own juridical personality, as well as its own financial autonomy, which will eventually result in rural radio stations being able to generate their own financial resources, and to manage them in an autonomous fashion. In point of fact, FAO and its partners are earnestly seeking to guide rural radio in the direction of stability and durability, in order for it to be able to find easy access to the scientific and technical sources of information, as well as to the manifold potentialities that are offered by the new information and communication technologies.
The WAICENT (World Agricultural Information Centre, FAO) as well as numerous technical services are depositories of a considerable number of databases containing information on agricultural and rural sustainable development, which the listeners to the rural radio stations need in order to better control their environment. However, this information must have a direct and appropriate relationship to their need for information and communication, which must first be identified, no matter which ways and means exist that would help them gain access to this information.
When FAO, by means of its Extension, Education and Communication Service, became involved in the promotion of this form of communication in the rural milieu, it provided assistance in:
Previously however, FAO, together with UNESCO, played the role of pioneer when it organised a meeting in 1966, which generalised the radio rostrum model, immediately resulting in the emergence of radio clubs and farm radios in Africa (meeting held at Giseyni in Rwanda for French-speaking Africa, and at Moshi in Tanzania for English-speaking Africa).
In Africa, radio is still considered to be the most appropriate means of communication for supporting and promoting rural development due to its low cost, its adaptability to a wide range of situations and audiences, and its accessibility.
Rural radio in Africa is a means of communication that is close to the majority of persons living in rural communities. Rural radio makes available to them a forum for democratic dialogue on the economic, social and cultural problems relating to development in rural, semi-urban and urban milieus.
Radio in Africa today is undergoing a major series of transformations, namely, the emergence of independent radio stations, as well as the emergence of new roles that radio can play, particularly with regard to satisfying the needs of the private sector, of non-governmental organisations, of rural communities, of farmers' associations and organisations, and of women' and young peoples' groups.
This experience was made possible thanks to the expertise that FAO had acquired as a result of its training sessions, it analysis seminars, and its research activities.
Armed with this experience, FAO has devoted its energies for the past two decades to stimulating and supporting the development of rural radio in Africa.
For more than twenty-five years, FAO has followed the evolution of rural radio stations. In doing so, it has made it possible for the local human resources to acquire the technical aptitudes and competence that are indispensable for production organisation, for broadcasting, and for the management as well as the maintenance of the rural radio stations.
In the view of FAO, the support program for rural radio stations places rural communication at three levels:
Three types of radio then, or three systems whose harmonious articulation makes it possible to achieve true rural radio communication, in spite of the fact that at the present time, we can observe the evolution of rural radio stations towards localisation, in terms of the local rural radio stations of the community type, sometimes referred to as neighbourhood radio stations.
The classical type of rural radio stations, national and/or regional appear to be slowly disappearing, or are being abandoned, in favour of local and community radio stations, in regard to which our organisation has, several years ago, indicated a very clear option, or choice, for its present and future support.
The principal objective of our strategy is to make certain that rural radio activities become permanent as well as autonomous, and to place them at the service of the different development operations.
In order to do this, our operations are concentrated upon four methodological principles:
- The Integration Principle: It is essential that rural radio stations expediently integrate all of the concerns and themes of rural development. It is therefore important to encourage the establishment of inter-sectoral structures for the joint planning and orientation of programmes that involve the Ministry departments concerned with development, the NGOs, the sponsors, as well as the associations or groups that are representative of the rural world.
- The Interdisciplinary Principle: It is essential that the rural radio production and animation teams be of an interdisciplinary nature. It would therefore be useful for the staff and technicians from the principal organisations involved in rural development to work together with these teams, to provide them with homogeneous and technical training on rural radio production methods, and to encourage the creation within these organisations of groups that would follow up the activities of the rural radio stations.
- The Interactivity Principle: The rural radio production and broadcasting activities must be based upon the real concerns that affect the rural world, and they must take the form of a permanent dialogue with the communities. Priority should be given to mobile production means, in order to make certain that the rural radio team would be present in the field for at least ten days each month. Priority should be given to the information coming from the field. Radio programmes must be adapted to the cultural characteristics and the communication circuits that are characteristic of the rural world. In addition, they should integrate the values that form part of the local heritage.
- The Durability Principle: It is essential, if we wish to guarantee the permanent nature of rural radio activities, that we study and adapt the juridical, institutional and administrative measures needed in order to allow the rural radio stations to benefit from their own resources, and to manage themselves in an autonomous manner.
These methodological principles have been chosen in preference to other possible strategies or execution modalities, because the answers we provide to these demands must, in a simultaneous and complementary manner, cover three areas:
- Human Resources: The training process for new rural radio teams must be accelerated. The CIERRO must also be supported and reinforced, because its role is determinant in the training sector.
- Operating Resources and Rural Radio Juridical/Administrative Statute: The problems involved must be treated in an energetic and spontaneous fashion at the government and NGO level. In point of fact, it is essential that the present or future radio stations operating at the national, regional or local levels be in possession of a statute or management modality that would permit them to mobilise their existing financial resources in a manner that would guarantee their proper functioning and development, without making it necessary for them to solicit funding from their partners for each step they take.
- Infrastructures: A considerable amount of investment must be made in this area, since we are dealing here with equipping the regional and local radio stations with the means of production and broadcasting, as well as with the tools needed for follow-up and evaluation concerning the impact of the programmes that are broadcast.
Rural Radio's Participatory and Interactive Methodology, Or Rural Radio as a Useful Tool for Social Investigation.
Until very recently, radio operated in the rural environment as an extension of the extension activity of the rural agent. It is no accident that during the 1980's, a number of communication researchers as well as practitioners in this field reflected upon and analysed the participatory and interactive nature of rural radio. In point of fact, this calling into question of the utilisation of rural radio has coincided with the development of the MARP, and the two tools developed in a parallel fashion, often drawing from the same disciplinary sources, and mutually borrowing certain techniques from one another.
Before we return to this aspect of the question, it might be useful to point out that rural radio is utilised by a number of projects that are supported by FAO, in which the participatory approach is used as a methodology that contributes to the carrying out of the two stages of this approach:
By making use of radio production techniques such as public broadcasts, community interviews and discussion-debates, rural radio can be used not only as tool for investigating the environment, but also as an evaluation and self-evaluation method.
By giving village folk the opportunity to express their views, and by doing so using the most participatory broadcasts, in this case, public programmes, rural radio is able to carry out a sort of triangulation, in gathering different opinions linked to age, gender, and geographic localisation, as well as to the social condition of the people in terms of a given question. This is all the truer, given the fact that all of the different social levels of the village or the rural community participate spontaneously in public programmes.
It is in this manner that we can make our diagnosis, or our evaluation.
The dynamic utilisation of the discussion-debate formula, and of the direct, non-direct and semi-direct interview techniques allow us to diagnose and evaluate.
The use of radio as a tool for social investigation requires a certain number of preliminary conditions, without which we cannot reach the objective we have set for ourselves.
Our next approach in examining this methodology, is to analyse the manner in which rural radio is being used at the present time, within the framework of survey trips to the field in order to collect and then to process the information gathered. This involves the preparation of the technical material to be used in the field, preceded by two to three days of the necessary preparatory canvassing, which, unfortunately, very few field survey teams actually do.
The field survey trips are generally organised as forays, during which the rural radio producer alone has the central role. This producer decides which questions are to be covered, and he then produces the directed broadcasts (after spending one night or so in the village), but he is never called upon to evaluate the programme that is broadcast.
This manner of utilising rural radio is far from being participatory, and it does not allow rural radio to be used as a tool for social investigation.
The essential element in these rural radio activities is making it possible for this vital tool to be used by the village people themselves, who can transform it into a forum that enables them to express their views on development questions, and an instrument for social dialogue and consultation.
However, it is only community participation that can provide this tool with all of the above-mentioned dimensions. Bringing this tool closer to audiences allows them to become involved in the creation, development and production of the programmes to be broadcast. In order to achieve this, we must go into the villages, and use the participatory approach technique, as well as the most appropriate kinds of radio programmes that involve people's participation.
The rural and isolated areas of developing countries are characterised by a low population density, and the nearly total lack of telecommunications infrastructures. Access to basic telecommunications services as well as information are, nevertheless, a vital necessity in the fight against poverty, and the improvement of peoples' living conditions.
The international community has been mobilising to promote the "Information Highway", and the Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). In developing countries however, outside the urban centres, the conditions for access to information sometimes constitute insurmountable obstacles. The "digital divide" is widening not only between North and South, but within the South as well, namely, between the upper and middle classes in the cities, and the most disadvantaged persons living in rural areas.
These people have no access to the information and educational resources that are necessary for broadening their knowledge, and allowing them to participate in the decision-making process. They have no access to the mechanisms which would enable them to communicate with the principal actors in the development process. In addition, the knowledge and qualifications that should normally be available in rural communities are frequently neglected.
The ICTs increasingly appear to be the best solution for facilitating the accelerated integration of rural areas, thereby allowing a better development of different sectors, such as education, health care, small business, agriculture, etc. This development, however, cannot be considered to be sustainable, unless the ICTs create rural networks that are linked to one another, as well as to the other national and international communication media. Unfortunately, the principal actors who are concerned by this acquisition of knowledge do not have direct access to these ICTs.
As a result, we must perforce develop a communication strategy that favours an integrated approach, centred upon the role of the "traditional" means of communication, and that of rural radio in particular, as an interface between the ICTs and the rural communities.
FAO is already involved, together with a number of other bilateral and multilateral1 cooperation agencies, in the creation of a multipurpose community telecentre project in Timbuktu, Mali. The objective of this initiative is to develop operational models for the new communication technologies in five African countries.
In 1999, FAO, within the framework of this initiative, commissioned a study with regard to the information needs of the rural communities in the Timbuktu region. This study revealed that the groups of people interviewed were highly motivated in their desire for information regarding food production, the marketing of food products, partnership opportunities, and health care. The study also indicated that radio was the most highly favoured among the different means of communication available, but that radio needed more qualified broadcasters, as well as programmes that are more adapted to local realities.
For the past several years, FAO has been supporting rural development in Mali, principally by means of the revival of rural radio. The government authorities, with the support of the UNDP and FAO, worked together in 1993-1994, in defining a national communication policy..
Within this context, FAO supported the Communication Ministry's project of linking up the four radio stations of southern Mali with the Internet, in collaboration with the rural communities of Bougouni, Bla, Kolondieba and Koutiala.
The overall objective of this project proposal is to promote the exchange of scientific and technical information between farmers and development agents, by establishing an integrated system of rural information. This system will use rural radio as the intermediary between the rural communities and the Internet.
The proposal also aims at the creation of an environment which favours a better understanding of the importance of information and communication in the process of agricultural and rural development. This includes, in particular, the development of food security, animal breeding and fishing, the raising of the social status of women, and the reintegration of young people by the creation of employment opportunities.
Furthermore, the on-line data processing equipment that has been installed in each radio station can facilitate access to telecommunication and multimedia services, and promote a new ICTs culture.
The Methodology of Communication for Development
The correlation between agricultural productivity and the means of communication has been firmly established by recent research. The methodology that has been used within the framework of this proposal favours a participatory approach which takes into account the needs and expectations of rural peoples. Consequently, the role played by communication is decisive for promoting development on a human scale, within the climate of social change that characterises our world today.
Since 1996, FAO has been engaged in the search for and development of an approach that would integrate the Internet within the rural environment, beginning with the needs of the agricultural and rural communities. This approach is based upon a "communication for development" methodology, which relies upon the establishment of partnerships with the local populations and organisations, in order to help them develop their own means of communication, with the aid of tools such as community radio and video. In other words, it is based upon the participatory approach methodology.
The Media and its Audience
The media which will be used within the framework of this support is mainly of two types:
Apart from the use of these two principal media forms, preference will be given to the utilisation of traditional communication tools, as well as to neighbourhood communication tools such as GRAAP, slides and audio-visual documents.
The types of audiences concerned by these communication activities are: a) The local development partners, or NGO's, and both the centralised and decentralised government technical services who might be looked upon as intermediaries; b) The rural populations, and the farmers' organisations.
At the present time, the ICTs constitute a powerful resource and information exchange tool. On the one hand, they allow the spreading of information, and on the other, they facilitate the search for and reception of information. In the face of the two major restraints which exist, namely, the large distances separating rural communities from urban centres, and the illiteracy
of the local populations with regard to the languages in which useful information is available, rural radio has become the only tool capable of relaying to rural populations the information that is available on the Internet, coming from other radio stations that form part of the proposed information system. In addition, thanks to the use of mobile equipment, there is the advantage of being able to provide the feedback from the local population to both the radio stations, and the Web.
Consequently, it is a question of connecting the rural radio stations to one another, as well as to the Internet, by creating a network, the Intranet, managed by a joint team that would be trained in the use and research of the pertinent information provided on the Internet. This team would also be charged with the processing of this information according to the local context, the scripts and the radio broadcasting. The team should be capable of using the listener and audience survey tools, in order to better understand the public to whom it is addressing its message, and above all, to be able to encourage interactivity by means of permanent feedback. This would allow the public to create a return of information for both radio and the Internet, be setting up of a site.
The team will be composed as follows:
The project in question will be based upon a server located in Bamako, which will be the initial link between the Web sites dedicated to rural and agricultural development, particularly the services of the WAICENT (World Agricultural Information Centre, FAO) and the rural radio stations of the Mali South project (GCP/MLI/020/NET) in the cities of Bla, Koutiala, Kolondieba and Bougouni. At a later date, the liaison will be extended to the virtual services of the Timbuktu Multipurpose Community Telecentre, with the radio stations that have been installed in this area.
The following diagram shows the different liaisons and mechanisms that must be set up within the framework of this strategy for the utilisation of the ICTs in the rural radio project.
FAO's experience in the area of participatory development can be put into practice, in order to define and develop, with the collaboration of the different partners concerned, activities such as identifying, organising and compiling the information and the existing data banks within WAICENT, in order to answer the specific agricultural and rural development needs through the intermediary of the telecentre. This project could also provide for the creation of associated national organisations, to enable them to produce their own information in an electronic format for distribution through the Internet, and for broadcasting on the rural radio stations.
Duration of the Project
Creation of the Web site
Training the ICT users
Equipment purchase and installation
Creation of data bases
Training of radio facilitators and producers
Enlarging the Timbuktu Multipurpose Telecentre network, and the radio stations of Mali North
The project's objectives shall be achieved by means of the following concrete steps:
In 2001, we shall organise a workshop in Mali entitled "Connecting the Radio to the Internet", in collaboration with the four radio stations of the Mali-South area.
WAICENT / FAO's WEB Resources
FAO is able to provide technical assistance in the planning, development, adaptation, setting up and evaluation of the applications and contents of the rural information system (SIR). FAO's WAICENT, its World Agricultural Information Centre, is in possession of a vast amount of agricultural and rural development information, which can be organised, integrated and distributed by the telecentres.
FAO, by means of WAICENT, is able to provide technical and hypermedia information on subjects ranging from agriculture, forestry, fishery and food security to sustainable development, in addition to statistical data on the production and commercialisation of agricultural products, and on the specialised information systems including early warning systems. This virtual reference library is available to anyone who has a connection to the Internet.
FAO's experience in the area of participatory development can also be applied with a view to defining and developing together the following types of activities:
Particular attention must be paid to the participation of women and women's organisations in the service of rural communities.
An approach to FAO's development communication would be crucial in training, making information and communication services available, as well as information contents in the area of agricultural and rural development.
Particular attention should be paid to the liaison of the telecentres to local media, with a view to creating a "multiplier effect", and thus rendering the information more accessible to much larger audiences, and increasing local access to the telecentres.
FAO could also assist its national and international partners in following-up and evaluating the services, technologies, applications and contents of the telecentres in terms of economic, social, institutional, information, communication and apprenticeship results, as well as in terms of performance, profitability, and sustainability of the pilot project.
Communication for Development is an essential component of an integrated approach which brings together the different actors or partners in agricultural and rural development.
FAO has been an advocate of the Communication for Development approach for more than twenty years. Through its projects in many countries, FAO carries out Communication for Development activities by making use of media forms such as rural radio and video for the training of farmers in its multimedia campaigns; in order to better understand the farmers' communication networks; to establish connections between the agricultural knowledge systems, and in the area of farmers' participatory popularisation.
FAO' S EXPERIENCE WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF THE TIMBUKTU MULTIPURPOSE COMMUNITY TELECENTRE
The Timbuktu region is situated in the northern part of Mali. There are serious gaps between the limited natural resources available (water, land, pastures and forests), and the people using these resources, namely 461,956 inhabitants, and 331,500 heads of cattle, 2,100,000 chickens and goats, 137,000 donkeys and 107,000 came lines.
The region has six circles, and has a total land surface of 504,776 sq. km, which amounts to 40% of the national territory.
There is no newspaper (daily, weekly or monthly) in the Timbuktu region, nor is there any specialised publication that is edited and distributed in the region; no television network produces and broadcasts its programmes in the Timbuktu region. The publications and television networks that are distributed or broadcast in Timbuktu are thus created outside this region, and as a result, they do not take into account the region's realities.
The carrying out of a pilot project for a Timbuktu multipurpose community telecentre has as its objective, the acquisition by the local resident communities of informational knowledge, and an effective communication system to help them resolve their development problems.
The Mali telecentre pilot project will allow FAO, in collaboration with its national and international partner organisations, to reach a larger audience of users, ranging from the decision-makers to the extension agents and farmers, and to provide them with up-to-date information on agricultural production and rural development. This information will be specific to the country, pertinent with regard to local realities, and linked to general sources of information. This is in conformity with the FAO mission, which is to reinforce and amplify the information circuits that are intended to reach the member countries.
We are dealing with the operational capability of the TCP (or that of other means of communication) to provide the rural communities and urban centres in Timbuktu with the means and capability of searching for and finding information (juridical, technical, economic, etc.) wherever it is to be found, at the local, regional, national and international level, to process this information in function of their own objectives and projects, and to disseminate it among the different users in this milieu.
ICTs Servicing Rural Radio
a) New Contents
The themes and subjects which we will be discussing during these four days, such as food security, global information and early warning system, agrometeorological information, market prices and post-harvest operations, to mention only a few, are, in point of fact, hardly new to us.
I shall only cite two examples. In 1992, the CTA and the OMM organised a workshop on rural radio, and the dissemination of agrometeorological information. In 1996, thanks to the World Food Summit, the subject of food security was to be heard over the airwaves of a large number of urban and rural radio stations.
Today however, how many of your radio stations make an important percentage of their programming schedule available to these subjects that are so vital for agricultural and rural sustainable development?
And yet, if we evaluate the information and communication needs of the people, and of their communities, it is obvious that these subjects are extremely important and very useful to them.
This is why we can consider them as new subjects, not so much due to their recent character, but because we would like to consider them more deeply, and to reflect on them, so that we may commit ourselves to provide them with the time, both in volume and in quality, that is due to them, given their great importance for the survival of rural communities.
b) New Partnerships
An ever-increasing number of network connections between the rural radio stations are being created at the present time within the framework of multiple partnerships.
The highly necessary dialogue with regard to the exchange of programmes, ideas and methods, and for the purpose of creating purchasing centres for spare parts, illustrates the need to rationalise the initiatives and actions in the domain of rural radio, and make them as profitable as possible. We must respect the dynamics and the collaboration process that is under way, all the while making overtures towards others who have lived the experiences of rural radio which have been carried out elsewhere, in Africa, for example.
In beginning to collaborate with the agricultural radio broadcasters of North America, we are offering an opportunity to workshop participants to share their experiences in the South as well as in the North; to reflect upon the effects and consequences of globalisation on rural radio stations, and on the impact of the Internet on rural and/or farm radio, because farmers throughout the world are requesting information coming from the rest of the planet, with regard to the important questions of the present moment, and particularly concerning sustainable agricultural and rural development.
We have also finally taken notice of the express wish of a number of American agricultural radio broadcasters, to collaborate with other radio broadcasters from Africa, both rural and non-rural.
In conclusion, we must unhesitatingly decide to conduct a vigorous and concerted search for solutions to the manifold problems that are being faced by rural radio. These problems are still centred upon training, infrastructures and equipment, the juridical statutes and specifications of the rural radio stations, research with regard to audiences, and the impact made by radio broadcasts, and the question of the ownership of these stations by the different communities. Furthermore, we must give greater importance to the option of local community-type radio stations, as a democratic alternative within the framework of the decentralisation process, and the strengthening of the control and management capabilities of the people.
Our experience will emphasise how we can give the floor to radio audiences, in order for them to be able to express their needs, first of all, as well as their opinions and points of views with regard to the questions which correspond to the needs they have expressed in survey interviews.
The question of access to information sources, whether this be carried out by the classical and traditional means, in terms of supports, or by more modern means such as the ICTs, should not make us lose sight of the fact that the effective utilisation of a radio communication which has food security as its objective, requires, first of all, a comprehensive understanding of the knowledge and needs of farmers and rural populations, and subsequently, the application of the appropriate communication messages and strategies.
Access to information sources appears to us at the present time to be less important than contents. The offer in this domain which we are proposing, through WAICENT in particular, with regard to scientific and technical information, is of particular importance.
The programmes that are broadcast by the rural radio stations should place greater emphasis on subjects and questions dealing with sustainable agricultural and rural development, as well as food security. The local sources of information, combined with the scientific and technical packages on these subjects which the potentialities of ICTs offer to us, give us the opportunity to better disseminate the information and knowledge with regard to sustainable agricultural and rural development.