In July of 2011, Niger held its first national conference for political dialogue on the promotion of peace, democracy and good governance. To celebrate that initiative, USAID’s Peace through Development II project launched an annual competition among community and private radio stations in order to promote the production of local radio programming with innovative “anti-violent extremism” messaging. Known as “Gwani daga Karaka” (roughly “rural radio master” in Hausa), the competition has become a lively annual event. This year, twenty-one (eight community and thirteen private) radio stations participated.
Participant submissions were judged by an independent jury on both technical and artistic criteria, including sound quality, diversity and thoroughness of interviews, and relevance of the theme to countering violent extremism.
The top private radio award went to Radio Sahara Agadez for an in-depth report on the use of use of women as suicide bombers. Radio Annuri Mayahi won the top honor among community radio participants with a report that explored the role of religious education in the fight against violent extremism. Both winning stations were presented with a trophy and a new computer equipped with pre-installed sound editing software.
“This competition is an important strategy for encouraging the production of high- impact ‘counter-violent extremism’ local radio programs. It also helps to educate and build the resilience of young people against extremist groups. I am therefore proud of the prizes won by my radio station. The computer will help our journalists to produce high quality programs and boost our station’s determination to remain among the moderate voices against violent extremism in our country,” stated Mr. Abdoul Karim Anicet, Senior Journalist and Animator of Radio Sahara Agadez.
Eighty-two percent of Niger’s population is rural, where radio is the primary means of accessing information. USAID’s Peace through Development II project works with 33 partner radio stations to improve access to information for Nigeriens and promote public dialogue on issues of peace and security.