Thursday 6 March 2014, 17:06
Community health workers in Odisha, India are the latest to be trained to use an award-winning mobile health service Mobile Kunji from BBC Media Action to improve family health.
Friday 7 March 2014, 17:09
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 in Sierra Leone’s south - is producing this new programme and giving people the space to tackle the issue.
Lifting the lid on stigma
Agnes Yanguba is a school teacher in Mattru Jong. Like many other rural women in the country, she was faced with a dilemma: abandon her pregnant teenage daughter to an uncertain future – as many parents do - or support her despite the shame surrounding teenage pregnancy.
She opted for the latter.
In an interview for Skirt n' Trosis, Agnes quoted a popular saying, "there isn't a dustbin in which to dump a bad child" – meaning you don't give up on your child because he or she has done something wrong.
And she called on other parents...
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 Mobile Kunji, an audio-visual aid that helps health workers to interact with families. It is made up of an interactive voice-response-based mobile service and a printed deck of cards.
Each card – designed to look like a mobile phone and held together on a ring – illustrates a key health lesson and also has a unique mobile phone shortcode printed on it.
When a health worker dials the number on their mobile phone, they can play a health message to the family they are visiting...
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 by helpless resignation. And it was only then that I suddenly recognised it was a reaction I had witnessed elsewhere - while conducting research on governance issues for BBC Media Action.
State of helplessness
Our research team was trying to find out why the Nigerian authorities appear to lack accountability and also why people don't question their leaders and administrations.
When we first started speaking to people about this issue in 2010, it seemed we were hitting the same wall over and over again. People kept on telling us things like, "I cannot talk [because] they will not listen...
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...
Friday 7 February 2014, 11:54
It's over a month now since I arrived in Juba after I escaped gunfire and panic in the town of Bor by fleeing into the bush. Coming to South Sudan's capital was like stepping out of hell into paradise. Thankfully, for me, the dire situation of living in the bush without shelter, electricity, food and clean drinking water is now over.
I am starting a good new life, albeit from scratch. Sitting on a chair, sleeping in a room with concrete walls and a roof, enjoying internet, electricity, clean drinking water – it feels very far from the hideouts where I took refuge.
Thursday 6 February 2014, 14:27
It's now just over a year that our weekly radio programme Talk Your Own - Make Naija Better (Make Nigeria Better) has been on air. And 12 months on from our first episode, the difference our programme has made is thrilling to see.
Our aim for the programme is an ambitious one: provide a platform for Nigeria’s 160m+ population to get involved in how their country is run.
Not only do we use radio to reach people – broadcasting on more than 110 stations in 36 states – but we’re also using the social networks that are becoming increasingly popular in Nigeria.
Since we've been on air, people...
Monday 3 February 2014, 17:17
Thirty one programmes and 19 locations later, season two of Kenya’s TV and radio debate show Sema Kenya has finally wrapped. As we prepared to record the last show of the season, our web editor Audrey Wabire asked me what my highlights were and it got me thinking.
Weathering the storm
Editorially I would say it was the clash of the titans in Kenya’s biggest rural constituency Kakamega.
With our eyes permanently glued to the gathering clouds, the whole team went on a charm offensive to persuade the punctual governor to wait for the delayed senator to arrive. I think it’s safe...
Wednesday 29 January 2014, 11:19
Mary Achol has experienced a lot in her 85 years. She's raised five children, steered her family through decades of unrest and conflict and witnessed the birth of the state of South Sudan.
Now blind, she can only get around with the help of her grandchildren. Calling her Acholdit ('Old Achol') out of respect, they guide her slow, halting steps with the help of a walking stick.
So when last month violence once again erupted in her hometown of Bor, Acholdit had to rely solely on her family’s help to escape.
One of her five children, Joseph Anyieth Akech, told me the...