Health education coming via radio
Massive flooding occurred in Mozambique. Thousands of people died because they did not know the floodwaters were coming.
Radio could have warned them.
Children ill with malaria may die because their parents do not recognize the symptoms.
Radio could remind them.
By Christmas 2009, a community radio station operated by United Methodists in Cote d'Ivoire will be on the air. It will be the first of three that United Methodist Communications will establish in Africa by the end of 2012, says Ginny Underwood, the agency's executive director for programs and strategic initiatives.
"Radio is an efficient means to deliver information broadly," says the Rev. Larry Hollon, general secretary of United Methodist Communications. "Radio spans the geography and reaches people in their communities where they are comfortable and can learn in place."
The station in Abidjan will air a mix of life-saving information about malaria prevention and other health issues, agriculture and other topics, Underwood says, along with "confessional radio" 2 life-transforming messages of hope and reconciliation, peace and justice in a country where civil war ended in 2007.
Theological courses for some of the stations will be developed later in collaboration with the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
Cote d'Ivoire's stable economy and technological infrastructure -- along with a strong United Methodist presence that has a good relationship with the government and partnerships with U.S. annual conferences -- will help ensure the station's success. As United Methodists in the United States are acquiring equipment and training staff, the Cote d'Ivoirians are developing programming and plans to sustain the station financially.
Bringing "life-enhancing content to people who are often not served by other forms of media because they are too remote or too poor" will be a "significant role" for the stations, Hollon says. "Radio is the most direct, immediate and accessible medium that reaches people in these communities. In addition, listening groups can be organized to act together."