Mitigating Floods and Climate Change Through Community Radio

RANET(short for Radio/Internet) is a project established in 2006 by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, under the Kenya Meteorological Department(KMD). The project is mandated to interpret and disseminate information on the climate and weather outlook, forecasts and ultimate early warnings for any impending catastrophes in collaboration with the KMD. As an early warning system incorporated in the National Disaster Management Authority, RANET has six (6) radio stations strategically located in areas affected by climate and weather-related catastrophes. These are namely Kangema in Murang’a County, Kwale RANET in Kwale County, Nganyi in Vihiga County, Suswa in Narok County, Bulala in Busia County, and recently RANET Garbatula in Isiolo County.

Bulala FM is situated at the Bunyala Sub-County Headquarters in Budalang’i Busia County. It serves a 30-KM radius and boasts of a 250,000-strong listenership. Bulala 107.5 FM is the first, and so far the only, Community Radio Station in Bunyala, and the entire Busia County, hence our slogan: “Mwanawa’mberi, Omwoyokwa’Abanyala” which translates to “the first born (of the community), the voice of the Banyala.

The station has an all-inclusive programming schedule that runs between 6:00 am to 12:00 Midnight and has informative (news), educative and entertaining programs for the Banyala community and its environs, which include Samia and parts of Busia town.

Budalang’i has in the recent past been of National and international concern over perennial flooding during both the long and short rainy periods. Sandwiched between three water bodies i.e. the Yala Swamp, River Nzoia and the Great Lake Victoria, communities living around these water bodies have been hard-hit by devastation of their farmlands, destruction of their homes, death of their domesticated animals and to an extent, people’s lives are lost, mainly due to water-borne diseases caused by the contaminated water, which stagnates for almost three months. (insert photo 2)

From 2016, Bulala FM together with other RANET radios has partnered actively with KCOMNET’s Umoja Radio for Peace Project. This partnerships have seen many young journalists and producers benefit from periodic training and capacity building in production and conflict sensitive news reporting, such as conflict over the shared L. Victoria water resources. Other engagements with KCOMNET have also given the journalists a great deal of morale boosting and for social status in the community they serve and in the larger media fraternity.

Bulala FM looks forward to enhanced engagement with KCOMNET and other representative media organization in the championing for the interests of RANET Community Radio Stations, whose very existence has been hanging in the balance with the Ministry of Environment leadership threatening to withdraw paying salaries of the radios’ staffs. This is against the background of Communications Authority (CA) of Kenya’s regulations barring commercial advertising by Community Radios. Community radio can only survive through public funding or by being allowed like the private radio stations to engage in commercial advertising to be self-sustainable.

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