The neighbourhood of Kikondi, Uganda during the lockdown imposed by the government to deal with the Covid-19 crisis. Photo: Ndahiro Derrick/Wikimedia Commons
Mama FM, a women-focused radio station serving the underprivileged in Uganda, has changed its programming to focus on the Covid-19 pandemic.
It has developed creative ways of delivering information about the contagious disease: a comedy skit, short spot messages, and a Q and A with a doctor who responds to questions from listeners.
“Occasionally we bring in the religious people to give hope to the people. Gospel music high on the agenda,” said Mama FM. “Apart from updates on COVID-19, and what government is saying, the programming is dominated by information that is trying to demystify the misconceptions and myths about the virus.” About 90% of the program is delivered in the local language, Luganda.
Annet Nakandi (left), a member of the Uganda Media Women’s Association’s media monitoring team, with WACC consultant Mary Myers at the organization’s MAMA FM office in Kampala in 2019. File photo: Courtesy of Mary Myers
Mama FM currently has no funding and relies solely on dedicated volunteers and interns. “In the old good days, we had about 45 people coming to Mama FM. But after the lockdown measures, only 10 staff/volunteers report for duty. The workload is much more, but we are determined to hang in there.”
The radio station is part of the Uganda Media Women’s Association, a WACC partner, which focuses on reaching out to marginalised people who cannot afford modern technology. These include women, people with disabilities, refugees, seniors and youth. Member radio stations reach of about 1.5 million people.
“The value-added of community media is seen at its best in times of crisis, when credible information needs to be delivered effectively and efficiently in ways that ordinary people can readily understand”, said WACC General Secretary Philip Lee. “Mama FM is doing a really fantastic job.”