BBC Media Action

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Information is aid: empowering Rohingya women in Cox’s Bazar

On the first anniversary of the Rohingya crisis, one of our humanitarian workers on the ground in Bangladesh tells how a radio programme helped a mother keep her baby son healthy.

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  • Community Mobilisation Manager

    On International Day of the Girl, find out how a radio programme helped a schoolgirl in South Sudan avoid early marriage and return to school by changing the attitude of her grandfather.

    The ongoing conflict in South Sudan has increased dangers for girls attending school in recent years and social norms play a significant role in the prevalence for boys over girls to attend (and remain) in education. Girls are usually expected to be responsible for the household chores, which affects their time for studying when they are at school, and early marriage is commonplace.

    Mary was 16 when she dropped out of school to get married.

    Mary’s grandfather, Giban Koka, is 80 years old, an elder and chief of his community. After listening to radio programme Our School in a group in Kenyangoyo village, South Sudan, Giban took action to stop his granddaughter’s planned early marriage and put her back in school.

    "Girls do drop out from schools for earlier marriage, but after I listened to the good advice from the radio and listener club meetings, I am now trying my best to educate our girls," he said.

    Giban told us the programme inspired him to make sure all the girls in his community go to school...

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  • Humanitarian Officer, BBC Media Action Bangladesh

    On the first anniversary of the Rohingya crisis, one of our humanitarian workers on the ground in Bangladesh tells how a radio programme helped a mother keep her baby son healthy.

    “I have learnt lots of new things from the radio programme, especially when the doctor advised about different health issues and encouraged me to visit nearer health care centres along with my husband when my children got sick.” Saiyada, Kutupalong camp, Bangladesh.

    For the last seven months I’ve been working in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, as part of BBC Media Action’s response to the Rohingya crisis. We help humanitarian organisations better understand the needs of the hundreds of thousands of people currently living in the camps and ensure displaced Rohingya people and the host communities receive the vital, often life-saving, information they need to support themselves and their families.

    I have helped set up listener groups especially for women, giving them the chance to listen to, and discuss, some of the most pressing issues affecting their lives right now. As a woman, I am able to enter the homes of Rohingya women on a regular basis to hear their thoughts and concerns first-hand.

    I first met...

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  • Content Researcher, BBC Media Action Cambodia

    As the world marks Youth Skills Day, we take a look at how a reality TV show empowered young people in Cambodia to secure themselves a better future. Around 300,000 young Cambodians enter the labour market every year, but they are often vulnerable to low wages, long working hours and/or hazardous working conditions. Many young people lack the soft skills and confidence they need to succeed, so “Dream Station” – which reached over 1.2 million viewers at its peak – aimed to inspire them.

    “After my father’s death, my dream was buried. I didn’t tell anyone about it; I didn’t think it was possible anymore,” said Maya who had dreamed about selling wholesale water mimosa plants to her community.

    “But when I saw other young people on Dream Station also face challenges on their journeys, I started to have hope in my dream again,” the 24-year-old added.

    The show inspired her confidence to ask her friends and neighbours for advice about her business plan.

    People like Maya are exactly who we wanted to reach.

    Maya dreams of growing 'kachet' and having her own business

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  • Deputy Country Director, Somalia

    “We often don’t get a chance to face our leaders and ask them questions. This was a good opportunity for us,” says 24 year-old Abdirizack Walanwal from Burao in Somaliland

    There is a magic about Qanci Dadkaaga as you walk into a recording. Enthusiasm fills the hall as one person sets out chairs for the audience, another runs a soundcheck, someone else replaces a broken microphone.

    From managers, researchers, finance officers, producers and studio operators as well as reporters – our production team is a diverse mix of men and women - and everybody helps everybody.

    It’s teamwork at its...

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  • Research Manager, BBC Media Action

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    Our radio drama Life in Lulu which depicts the lives and trials of people living in a small village in South Sudan and its regular listeners include inmates at Tonj prison. Henning Goransson Sandberg, our Research Manager, talks about his visit there to understand what they took from the programme.

    The prison sits on a main road, overlooking the river that flows past the city of Tonj, in...

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  • Research Officer, BBC Media Action Bangladesh

    “My husband was killed in Myanmar, and I had to flee with my children, leaving everything behind. I didn’t know where I am going. But, after coming to this camp I am living a much better life.” Rohingya widow, Kutupalong camp, Bangladesh.


    In late January I visited the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar to find out how the community gets its information and the media they preferred – to inform the...

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  • Producer, BBC Media Action Sierra Leone

    As the world marks World Malaria Day, hear from Eastina Massaquoi, the presenter of our new radio programme Tawa Fo Welbodi (which means 'Determined for Health') in Sierra Leone. Eastina helped stop Ebola and now she’s applying what we learned during the 2014-2016 crisis to help tackle malaria – which causes 40% of deaths outside of hospitals across the country.

    In January 2010, three days before my 21st birthday I was admitted to Konibanks Hospital in Freetown. My (now late) mother had called my boyfriend late at night asking him to rush me to the nearest hospital because I was restless,...

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  • Editor, Our School, South Sudan

    Gender roles are often the reason girls drop out of school in South Sudan. We produce radio show 'Our School' to amplify issues and barriers to girls education across the country so they can be discussed and overcome. Our editor shares a very unusual story of a young boy turning the tables on gender stereotypes.

    "Yes, I help my sister sometimes in sweeping, washing utensils and even sometimes we cook together" says Emmanuel happily, while busy doing some chores at his home in Juba.

    He's speaking with producer Florence Michael for radio programme 'Our School', the interview is for an episode...

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  • Head of Production, Sierra Leone

    The atmosphere in Sierra Leone right now is electric.

    In just a few days, more than three million Sierra Leoneans are expected to turnout to elect a new president, parliament and local council officials across the country. And, as we enter the closing stages of campaigning, discussions are becoming increasingly animated.

    From the economy to jobs, and education to social welfare - everything is a priority. Well, that's not surprising for one of the poorest countries of the world.

    But as we go into the elections, campaigners and observers predict there will be a significant drop in the number...

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  • Senior Producer/Stakeholder Liaison, BBC Media Action, Nepal

    As Sajha Sawal (Common Questions) takes a break, we revisit the questions and answers that changed lives - and the evolution of the most-watched debate show in Nepal. By its last episode, the programme had reached out to 6.6 million viewers.

    In 2008 Nepal was emerging from a decade-long civil war and entering a new political era. Sajha Sawal (Common Questions) - a Question Time-style debate show - found a ready audience that was used to dealing with volatile political circumstances.

    One of the first questions came from a schoolgirl Rejina Niraula.

    "The first right of children is to be able...

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