Bringing Societies Together through Media in Niger

Going live with the participants from the media training at Sahara FM in Agadez. Photo: IOM/Monica Chiriac

Niger is the second poorest country in the world. So being a journalist here is more often about passion, not financial gain.

Nevertheless, as Ibrahim Manzo Diallo, a journalist at Air Info and Sahara FM, proudly puts it: “When you love doing something, the rest will come. It’s like a train — the first car arrives and then the rest will follow.”

In May 2018, 15 young journalists from Agadez, Arlit, Dirkou, Djado, Fachi and Bilma, gathered in Agadez for a two-day IOM media training. Some of them were already established in their field, while others hoped to get their foot in the door and start a career in journalism.

The selection process was conducted mostly through word of mouth. IOM staff got in touch with a few journalists locally who invited others to apply by any medium possible. One of trainers recalls fondly receiving photos of handwritten CVs via whatsapp.

The participants listening attentively to the session on multimedia during the training. Photo: IOM/Marcos Moreno Báez

Our participants from the Kawar region hopped on a truck and traveled for three days to reach Agadez so they could attend the training. Some of them came from remote areas where there is no working telecommunications network, let alone an internet connection. Trying to get in touch with most of them quickly proved to be a challenge.

“It’s not for gratification that we do journalism. It’s a job that needs a lot of work, love and passion.” Tcherno, trainee

According to “We are Social” 2018 report, Niger has the world’s third lowest internet penetration, scoring 4 per cent with close to one million users. However, this number has doubled over the past year.

It’s not easy being a journalist in Niger. Even those who manage to brave the recurring electricity and Wi-Fi issues, face a lack of equipment and funds. “It’s a difficult job, but you can feel that it’s helpful for the community,” Ibrahim proudly says.

The field work started early for some of our more experienced journalists. Photo: IOM/Monica Chiriac

After attending a day of multimedia and journalism theory from experts in the field, our group of determined young women and men took to the field. Each of the four teams, equipped with smartphones, set out to find topics to report on. Some of them followed the launch of the IOM project while others reported on the activities of local women’s associations.

One of the groups decided to report on the launch of IOM’s project “Community Stabilization Initiatives in Northern Niger” (COSINN). Photo: IOM/Marcos Moreno Báez

The group work brought the participants closer, as they had to learn new styles of editing and reporting. The more experienced of the group helped the others edit their videos while Sahara FM opened its doors and let the participants use their equipment. Once back, the participants even published their reportages through their local media channels.

Ibrahim agreed to help train our youngest and less experienced of the group, in the art of radio. It comes as no surprise that radio is still the main choice for most Nigeriens. “You don’t need much to afford a radio in Niger,” Ibrahim says. There are 128 community radio stations and 35 private radio stations operating in Niger — so far.

Going live with the participants at Sahara FM in Agadez, one the 128 community radios in Niger. Photo: IOM/Monica Chiriac

Once at the station, the group was shown how to choose the daily topics for the shows, how to record sound bites and how to edit videos. “I am so happy we had the chance to go live!” said Chegou, one of our aspiring journalists from Fachi. The group, together with the reporters from Sahara FM, went live to discuss employment issues in the Kawar region. Going back, Chegou wants to approach the Mayor of Fachi to see what opportunities for media engagement there are in their region. “I would love to continue on this path and to contribute to the development of our society,” he adds.

“I can see now that there is potential in this field.” Chegou, trainee
Some of the participants with the reporters from Sahara FM, including Ibrahim (far right). Photo: IOM/Monica Chiriac

Ibrahim thinks small radio stations bring added value to the community that no other type of media can match. He recalls fondly when their morning show prompted the authorities to fix the clogged drainage system in Agadez. Last week, a community member told them he was opening a koranic school. Ibrahim announced it on the radio asking the community to bring in any second-hand Islamic holy books they had at home. It took only a few days before he had 57 books piled up in his office.

If this project hadn’t been created, someone would have had to create it. There is a need for it.” Ibrahim, trainer
Islamic holy books left at the radio station by community members. Photo: IOM/Monica Chiriac

The media training is part of the activities under the project “Community Stabilization Initiatives in Northern Niger” (COSINN) funded by the German Federal Foreign Office. IOM’s Community Stabilization (CS) programme aims to support governments and civil society in reducing factors that lead to irregular and forced migration, integrating the needs of marginalized groups and host communities, and responding to the impact of migratory flows on communities.

A trainee receiving her diploma. Photo: IOM/Marcos Moreno Báez

This story was posted by Monica Chiriac, Public Information Officer at IOM Niger.

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