The West Africa Democracy Radio (WADR) is a trans-territorial, sub-regional radio station based in Dakar, Senegal. WADR was established in 2005 as a project of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) to among other things protect and defend the ideals of democratic and open societies by disseminating development information through a network of community radios in the West African sub-region.
The mission of WADR is the promotion and defence of the ideals of democracy, openness, mutual understanding and respect between individuals and between communities. This regional radio entity also seeks to promote peace and human security, transparency and the duty to report on governance, regional economic integration, as well as social and cultural development amongst and between the peoples of the West African region. Through its programs, the WADR seeks to provide a forum for diverse opinions to create understanding among people and between people and their governments.
WADR started by broadcasting to the Mano River Union countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia as a pilot and today it has expanded to the other countries of the region with a network of about 40 partner radios in ten West African countries and a chain of correspondents in fourteen countries in the region. WADR started by broadcasting in French and English on 94.9 FM in Dakar, via satellite on Astra 4A to sub-Saharan Africa, and streaming on www.wadr.org
Presently WADR employs over thirty members of staff comprising administration, support staff, producers /journalists, technicians and correspondents. The radio model is based on partnerships and co-productions. From its inception to date WADR has brought together a pool of professionals from the region to contribute to the democratic development process of West Africa through in-depth coverage of events and production of programmes on relevant issues in the region such as health; education, governance, democracy and human rights, culture and youth and gender issues. The radio has been working with regional and international organizations as well as to produce programmes to educate and increase awareness of its target population on issues that concerns their development.
- To promote peace and understanding in a more open, tolerant and democratic society in West Africa,
- To provide a forum for people to express themselves on issues that interest them,
- To promote the exchange of information between the grassroots so as to stimulate a dialogue between them at the local and sub regional levels, and to raise awareness of the need to own the process of globalization.
- To create an alternative to the treatment of African news media by some who most of the time show the negative images of the continent.
WADR is presently broadcasting in English and French on-air on 94.9 fm, online on www.wadr.org, through mobile applications – Google Play and iphone and through our radio networks in the different countries in the region. Portuguese will be integrated progressively, as partnerships are being built in Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde with journalists as well as correspondents and radio stations.
In addition to these three ECOWAS languages, WADR programmes are also translated into the local languages by community radios and re-broadcast thus meeting its goal of informing the grass-roots on the public policies that are implemented in their name as well as their rights and responsibilities as citizens of ECOWAS. At the same time, WADR gives communities a channel to bring their views to policy makers and to the leaders. In so doing, the radio participates to improving the democratic system in promoting inclusion and participation of the majority beyond social, cultural, religious, national and linguistic barriers.
PARTNER RADIO STATIONS
At the community level different partner radios also produce and rebroadcast content from the national and regional levels to their communities. In Freetown for example, SLBC FM 88.0 a public radio station in Makeni, Eastern Radio 101.9 FM in Kenema, Radio Gbafth and radio New Song in Bo 97.5 have been used to communicate directly to the people at the community level and at the same time produce programmes that would then be broadcast at the national level with FM stations in the capital cities such as Radio Democracy, Citizen radio and African Young Voices and at the regional level through the WADR broadcasts on air and online.
In Guinea Conakry, Radio Rurale de Guinee in Faranah, Radio Rurale de Guinee in Boke, Horizon FM Kankan and Liberte FM in N’Zerekore are the radio stations that WADR has been working with to reach a large portion of the Guinean population.
In Liberia Radio Kergheamohn in Ganta Nimba County, Peace Fm 96.0 in Harbel, Margibi County, Radio Gbarnga in Bong County and Radio One Magic FM 99. 3 in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County are the WADR partner radios that enable the institution to reach a cross section of the Liberian community with relevant information as well as to produce and share their concerns at another level.
Furthermore WADR also partners with the radio Jamana network in Mali broadcasting from Bamako, Foko Segou and Koulikoro, whislt in Niger the partnership is with the Radio Alternative network also broadcasting in Niamey, Zinder and Agadez. In Ivory Coast WADR partners with 8 radio stations in Abidjan, Boake, Korghogo, Man, Pelefero and Daloa. In Benin radio stations in the capital Cotonou, Portonovo, Djrègbé (Sèmè Kpodji), Parakou, Comé and Ouassa. In The Gambia West Coast Radio one of the leading private radio stations, Sen fm in the Greater Banjul Area and Paradise fm with antennas in the serrekunda area, and the central region of the country. In Senegal WADR partners with over 20 radio stations in the different regions of the country. Partnerships are being worked on in countries like Ghana, Nigeria and Togo amongst others.
WADR had a special focus on Ebola since the emergence of the disease in the region. With the initial support from OSIWA, WADR continued with the thorough follow up on the Ebola epidemic in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Having produced a lot of reports on the emergence, spread and control of the Ebola epidemic leading to a CNN award nomination of one of the staff, WADR continued to join the fight against Ebola with the implementation of the OXFAM/WADR Ebola project titled “Supporting and Monitoring the Effective Governance of the Ebola Epidemic Response”,. This project which came in addition to the support already given by OSIWA in the fight against Ebola ended in December 2015.
Through this support by OSIWA and OXFAM, WADR has been able to use radio to reach different populations with information through a rigorous Top –Down and Bottom – Up Communication approach using radio, the website and social media including civil society networks. WADR has also been able to train local journalists, technicians and radio listening group facilitators in each of the three target countries. In addition institutional support through the provision of laptops, recorders and android mobile phones to 6 partner radio stations in each of the three countries further helped to facilitate reporting on the Ebola epidemic by journalists in the region.
A recent audience survey conducted under the project has shown that WADR together with its partners has an audience rate of 66 percent with the three countries combined. In Guinea 9 out of 10 people have listened to WADR programmes, in Liberia 6 out of 10 and in Sierra Leone less than half of the population have listened through its partner radio stations.
Presently WADR is working with Plan International on a post Ebola phase which includes the production of reports by correspondents and co – productions and broadcasting of programmes by WADR and partner radio stations.
The elections in Nigeria, Togo, Guinea Conakry, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso were all covered but this time with a difference. Instead of just having reports from the correspondents on the ground, WADR sent the senior producer who was able to coordinate with partner community radio stations in all the countries concerned and daily reports and interviews were conducted and programmes on the electoral process produced and broadcast focussing on the different regions in the countries. In Ivory Coast for example six partner radio stations, 5 French and 2 English stringers together with the correspondent in Abidjan were sending reports and productions continuously under the supervision of the senior producer on the ground that also joined the OSIWA team at the situation room. 11 regions were covered on a daily basis during the electoral process in the Ivory Coast.
In Burkina Faso WADR was able to cover 13 regions with 8 community partner radio stations and three French stringers plus two English stringers. In Guinea Conakry WADR also worked with partner radio stations in 7 regions, additional stringers in English and French and covered the entire process with reports, in-depth interviews, magazine programmes, features and others. Thus a week before the elections and a week after the elections a much focussed coverage of the electoral process in these two countries brought about a stronger partnership. The most recent elections in Benin and Niger were also covered with a special focus in addition to the referendum on constitutional reforms in Senegal in March. WADR is geared to cover the 2016/2017 elections in the region (Ghana, The Gambia, Liberia and Sierra Leone)
In addition to these, WADR also continued to work on other issues as it relates to our strategic plan and mandate with OSIWA including the coverage of the Hissene Habre trial in Senegal, the Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Ble Goude’s cases in the Hague and others.