We the undersigned Representatives from Eastern and Southern Africa, recognise the fact that:
Africa is going through a number of significant changes, politically, economically and socially. These changes have been brought about by a process of democratization and pluralism, a desire for peace and a decentralization of economic and political decision-making. The Continent also faces three critical challenges, poverty, illnesses and food insecurity.
These challenges can only be met by communicating with, and mobilizing the rural majority to own the process of their development.
In this context, Rural Radio can provide the most cost effective response to these challenges. It has already proved its capacity to mobilize rural development in a number of African countries. Its widespread and systematic use in Eastern and Southern Africa would bring undoubted benefits.
And for this to happen, we need:
The unreserved support of policy and decision makers is an essential prerequisite for Rural Radio to have optimum impact. Having a national communication policy and a legal framework would provide an opportunity to utilize Rural Radio to maximum effect.
These will require the commitment of national governments to support resource mobilization and capacity building.
The Lilongwe workshop (the first to sensitize Policy and Decision makers on Rural Radio in East and Southern Africa) has recognized that despite several resolutions and commitment, very little progress has been made in Eastern and Southern Africa to implement the recommendations. Consequently, there is room for using Rural Radio to initiate and facilitate rural development.
It is therefore, essential that all those involved in rural development (governments, international partners, NGOs, local groups and associations, the private sector etc) support and encourage the development of Rural Radio in Eastern and Southern Africa. To this effect, the workshop recognized the need for:
1. Policy Makers to accept and endorse the multi-sectoral approach of Rural Radio in national development;
2. Governments and other development partners to appreciate Rural Radio as an essential means for addressing the issues of Food insecurity, Gender imbalance, Human rights, ill health and Conflict resolution, among others;
3. Capacity building through the training of trainers in Rural Radio;
4. National communication for development policies in which Rural Radio is legally ensured as a rural development tool.
All the governments in Eastern and Southern Africa are invited to consider this Lilongwe declaration as a framework within which to define and implement actions to utilise Rural Radio to advance rural development in these two regions.
Signed on this day at
Cresta Crossroads Hotel, Lilongwe, Malawi.