This 62-page report, written by Yvonne Orengo and iMedia Director Nicola Harford, shares results from the Village Voices for Development (VVD) project in Madagascar designed to use radio as a tool to empower and enable citizens to learn about, understand, and act upon their rights to information and freedom of expression.
The VVD project produced and broadcast over radio programmes in which citizens posed their questions and concerns directly to local decision makers via the radio over a six month period in the drought-prone and poverty-stricken Androy region of southern Madagascar. Results included increased engagement by listeners with the media through participating in phone-in shows, as well as increased awareness of rights to information and expression and greater confidence in their ability to demand information and services from local decision-makers. A notable example of impact was the improvement in information about free hospital services.
The VVD programmes enabled both citizens and the Head of the Hospital service to address allegations of corruption which were negatively impacting access to health provision in the town of Ambovombe. Citizens in VVD listening groups demanded information about which services were free. This led to radio programmes in which hospital charges were publicly broadcast, and the public display of charges at the hospital itself. This was a simple but highly transparent act of information sharing through mass media which reduced the opportunities for exploiting the mostly non-literate, economically poor and sick who need to access free maternity and other health services in this region. The purpose of the report is to share the key findings, to document the design and evolution of the pilot project, feedback the outcomes to participating stakeholders, inform the donor community about the impacts of the VVD project, and provide lessons and perspectives to assist a proposed scaling up process.
The project was implemented by the Andrew Lees Trust in partnership with Andry Lalana Tohana (ALT), with financial support from Media Support Partnership, Adsum Foundation and the Swiss Embassy in Madagascar.