The women of the Okiminata self-help and radio listening group break into song and impromptu dance as they welcome late arriving members to their weekly gathering in Aldoba kebele in Ethiopia’s South Omo Zone. Along with a 10 Birr (25 pence) fine, this is how latecomers are fined for tardiness. There are no misgivings, however, as they have all come to appreciate the value of the climate information they receive over the only radio they have access to.
Prolonged periods of drought have become a frequent occurrence here, and for a community that depends on rain-fed agriculture and the availability of pasture to feed their herds of cattle, the climate information these women receive over the radio has become a critical resource.
Now the FM radio tells us how late the rains will be. We have been told that the rains will come, though a bit delayed. Now that the rains have started we have started sowing seeds. FM advised us to start sowing so we are sowing sorghum now.’
Active member of the radio listening group
Two years have passed since the Christian Aid supported BRACED programme distributed solar powered radio sets to radio listening groups to help build the resilience of communities that are vulnerable to climate extremes and disasters. BRACED works with the National Meteorological Agency of Ethiopia (NMA), the primary institution tasked with collecting climate information and forecasting weather systems in the country in order to produce climate information specific to different locations.
Short and long term forecasts are translated into local languages and broadcast on local FM stations through the BRACED partnership with BBC Media Action. The impact in communities facing the brunt of climate change and extreme weather has been profound.
Henock Lisanu is the Radio Programmes Coordinator at the Jinka branch of the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) Radio and Television Agency. The team he leads are responsible for translating and broadcasting the climate information received from the NMA by way of the BRACED programme.
The forecasts haven’t been wrong. When the rains are late it causes great concern among pastoralists. And when they are told it will rain on a specific date, they feel relieved. When they are informed that it will rain, they don’t move with their cattle and wait and prepare to plant crops.’
Radio Programmes Coordinator at the Jinka branch of the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) Radio and Television Agency
With the information we get from the radio, we now farm at the right time and I have been able to enjoy our harvest with my children.
After listening to the radio broadcast, Woliso and other members of the Okiminata self-help and radio listening group discuss what to do based on the climate information they received.
After a prolonged drought period, the radio forecast has confirmed that the rains that began that week will continue. Woliso and are husband have already started plowing their fields. As the weekly session ends, Woliso hurries back home to help with farming and the new small businesses that the listening group members have started. As a group, they have started to save money and invest in small businesses.
As Woliso confirms, this has provided the women economic independence that is unprecedented for women in their community.