Friday 4 April 2014, 11:52
TV and radio show Open Jirga enabled Afghans to express their views and demand answers from presidential candidates ahead of the country’s momentous elections.
Thursday 10 April 2014, 17:04
Journalists the world over aren't exactly known for their lack of cynicism. And in Nigeria it's often extremely hard to break through a journalist's hardened shell with training that convinces them they can address corruption, help people become aware of their rights and make a difference.
But as a trainer for BBC Media Action in Nigeria, I know it's possible - and the results can be remarkable.
Here are my practical tips on creating training sessions for radio journalists that can inform and inspire:
1. Make sure you do your own research first
Before you do anything, it's vital to pinpoint your trainees' gaps in knowledge and the areas where they need help - otherwise how else will you know where to start?
This can be done in a variety of ways. Before our training sessions, we ask all our trainees to fill in forms identifying their needs and interests, and to send us their programmes so we can listen to them for ourselves.
We also make a point to simply tune in to listen to our trainees on air – often without their knowledge! That way, we can hear them as they naturally broadcast and identify the areas where they need guidance.
2. Keep it all interactive...
Tuesday 8 April 2014, 12:37
Let me take you back a few years when I found out I was pregnant. I was way past my first trimester and the little darling growing inside of me had missed out on the benefits of folic acid for four months. But what swallowed me whole was the constant worry that things could go wrong. What's more, the often conflicting advice I got from my close ones and friends was enough to induce nightmares.
The only times I felt better were during my check-ups when the obstetrician reassured me with a big smile that the little one had ten fingers and toes, a big head, a pair of eyes and a strong beating heart.
I've been constantly reminded of that wonderful but worrying time in my current job at BBC Media Action. Since Christmas last year, I've been the script co-ordinator on a TV drama we’re producing in Bangladesh called Ujan Ganger Naiya (Swimming Against The Tide).
Power of drama
The show aims to not just entertain people but also to improve family health in Bangladesh.
It sets out to provide information and advice about antenatal care, postnatal care, birth preparedness and how delaying early pregnancy can improve the health of a mother and her children.
This is done, for example...
Friday 4 April 2014, 11:52
Since the departure of the Taliban regime in late 2001, experts on Afghanistan have been saying every year has been a critical year for the country. Often for very good reasons. But the significance of 2014 can hardly be exaggerated. Partly it’s because this year will see the end of international assistance in key areas. But mainly because it will bear witness to what will hopefully be the first ever peaceful democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan's history.
Afghanistan's war-weary people are, therefore, caught between fear and hope – feelings which have been clear to see in a special series of our TV and radio debate show Open Jirga dedicated to the elections.
The seven shows brought people from all 34 provinces of Afghanistan face to face with politicians, election commissioners and presidential candidates to debate the issues.
In feedback after the show, one audience member told us, "It was a completely new way of approaching officials. We have never experienced such a chance to see and meet presidential candidates and tell them our problems in the provinces."
Seventy eight per cent of those who responded to our questions after taking part also said they were...
Tuesday 18 March 2014, 13:58
Tracking the latest news on Ukraine from my kitchen in Scarborough has been a nerve-racking experience.
My son was in Kyiv working as a volunteer for the International Red Cross. Under sniper fire he was ferrying out casualties from the city’s Independence Square last month as the clashes between protestors and police intensified.
He had told me his Red Cross arm-band would protect him. Then we heard that he and a colleague were targeted as they were lifting out a casualty. His friend was shot in the back.
News was a vital link for my wife and me. She is Ukrainian, desperate to know what...
Friday 7 March 2014, 17:09BBC Media Action Sierra Leone interviewee Agnes Yanguba. Voice of Women radio March 2014
Teenage pregnancy is a major challenge in rural Sierra Leone. The shame associated with pregnancy outside of marriage makes it daunting for the parents of pregnant teenage girls and others to discuss the issue in public.
But Skirt n' Trosis (Skirt and Trousers) – a radio programme that aims to empower women - is changing this. With support from BBC Media Action and funding from the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office, partner radio station Voice of Women – which broadcasts from Mattru Jong, a town...
Thursday 6 March 2014, 17:06
"I can’t wait to use Mobile Kunji to counsel pregnant women, mothers and families in my village," Jharana Maharang told me as she cradled a deck of Mobile Kunji cards in her hands.
Twenty-eight-year-old Jharana is an ASHA which stands for Accredited Social Health Activist but also means 'hope' in Hindi.
On 23 February, she left her village in Sundergarh district in the eastern Indian state of Odisha to attend the launch of our latest mobile health project in India.
mHealth in action
Jharana, along with 29 other ASHAs from her district, were in the city of Rourkela to be presented with...
Monday 24 February 2014, 13:04
It was a typical Sunday morning. I was in the car driving to church and happily humming a tune to myself. But then, as I took a turn off the highway, I found the road ahead blocked – cordoned off for some high-level government official to pass.
Now road blocks and traffic jams are hardly rare in Abuja. For a church service, the road will be blocked. For Friday Jumat prayers, traffic comes to a standstill. And roads are often closed near police stations, banks, hotels and shopping malls.
As I sat behind my wheel, my reaction felt very familiar: a momentary surge of anger quickly replaced...
Friday 21 February 2014, 15:52
Three years on from the fall of Muammar Gaddafi's regime, Libya is still experimenting with democracy and for a researcher like me, this makes it a fascinating place. On 17 February Libyans celebrated 'revolution day' and yesterday went to the polls to choose a commission to draft a new constitution. The number who cast their vote is expected to be low – a fact that makes BBC Media Action's work in Libya even more challenging.
Libyas new constitutional commission will be made up of 60 members, with equal representation for Libya's three regions. The commission will have a mandate to draw up...
Wednesday 19 February 2014, 17:45
The road wound, seemingly endlessly, through scrubby wasteland. Other than the track we were on, there was no sign of human habitation for about 4km. But this was Madhya Pradesh in India, a country of 1.2 billion people. My colleagues were even more surprised than I: where were the people?
We were on the outskirts of the Panna tiger reserve, on the way to a village that is engaging weekly with our radio programme called Majboor Kiska Bola! (Who are you calling helpless!).
Funded by the Google Foundation, the programme provides listeners with information and inspiration about labour rights and...
Thursday 13 February 2014, 11:21
I never thought that a BBC project called Consolidating Media Freedoms would be the impetus behind my first ever trip to Iraq, but a few weeks ago I found myself on a plane to Baghdad to do exactly that.
The trip promised to be both interesting and complex. Our mission was to meet with a wide range of the Iraqi media community, from media professionals to parliamentarians to civil society activists, and begin a dialogue around public service broadcasting, its fundamentals and merits.
Our work would hopefully help nurture the Iraqi Media Network, a public service broadcast organisation launched...