South Sudan: voice of independence
Radio provides a vital source of information for the people of the world’s newest country as they embark on the long process of nation building, says Carol Morgan in Juba.
After South Sudan declared its independence on 9th July 2011, it faces the twin challenges of extensive development needs, and a volatile security situation both within its own borders and with North Sudan.
Tensions over the oil rich 'Three Areas', situated on the North/South border escalated, but problems at home are still the most pressing issues for a country where the majority do not have access to secondary education, primary health care or clean water sources.
A vital voice for South Sudan
For most people in South Sudan – especially women and people living in rural areas – radio is the only way of finding out about, and making sense of, their rapidly changing country.
Through radio, people can find out whether conflict is spreading towards them, or if NGOs are running immunisation schemes in their area. They can hear from their politicians about local facilities and services, and whether or not new roads will link them to the rest of the country. They can listen to English Language tuition programmes, access vital health education messages and discuss common issues which unite them as a country.
Local media, greater reach
The BBC WST is currently working with local media across South Sudan to improve access to this kind of information for the most vulnerable communities in is the world’s newest country.
Where other projects cannot operate because of security and infrastructure concerns, or simply due to long distances involved in reaching isolated communities, radio can bring information that helps save lives, build communities and skills, and bring people together across political, tribal and gender divides.
Through the first elections in a generation, and the historic referendum vote, the BBC WST has been supporting local media partners to provide better information to their audiences, address sensitive issues, and improve their representation of marginalised communities on air.
Sudanese trainers support the production of discussion programmes providing information around key issues affecting peoples' lives –such as violence against women. Reaction from audiences has been encouraging: "Tomorrow when I get married, I will keep on thinking of what I have heard in this programme- that beating of a woman is not good", says a young listener from Nzara in the south-west of the country.
Whether training under a tree, building make-shift studios, or recording farmers' questions in the middle of a field, the BBC WST and our partner networks – including South Sudan Radio, the Sudan Catholic Radio Network and Internews – will continue to support the people of South Sudan through the long process of nation-building.