Caribbean radio drama builds resilience to climate change

30 August 2011 | News story

Conservation messages about coral reefs, mangroves and forests are featured in a story-telling radio programme by My Island-My Community, a partnership of PCI-Media Impact and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.

By Jessica Robbins for Sean Southey, IUCN CEC member and Executive Director of PCI-Media Impact

Small islands, like those in the Caribbean, are the first to suffer the impacts of climate change. My Island – My Community, a partnership of PCI-Media Impact and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), works with government, media and community organizations throughout the region to re-script the narrative around a broad range of health and environmental topics.

The partnership's most recent production is 'Callaloo' -- not the traditional stew for which the region is known, but a new radio drama promoting messages about climate change, environmental conservation, health and economic integration in 15 island nations. My Island – My Community,  is rooted in the principles of Entertainment-Education, which incorporates vital information into entertaining media programs to simultaneously educate and amuse audiences.

In Calloloo, the show’s characters role model positive and negative behaviors in the drama, promoting knowledge, attitudes and community-based action such as conservation of important habitats like coral reefs, mangroves and forests. Such actions help protect against flooding and landslides caused by tropical storms and hurricanes. Also, interconnected health issues, including family planning and a rising incidence of HIV and AIDS, are addressed to promote sustainability in the region.

The drama, Callaloo, is part of a larger regional program, My Island – My Community, encompassing more than 50 partner organizations in Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Martin, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.

Starting this month, local teams in each country are playing the regionally-produced Callaloo as part of hour-long national talk shows that will engage listeners in conversations about local issues. New episode of the drama will air twice a week for two years. Community mobilization campaigns will complement the work, making it easy for local residents to engage directly with the issues.

My Island – My Community launched in 2010. The initiative directly responds to a determination by the OECS – a key partner - that messages of adaptation to a changing environment and health landscape must be shared with the general public.

In addition to spreading critical messages, the program aims to mobilize communities around the Caribbean to improve community-based adaptation to climate change, biodiversity conservation, population, social and health issues.

The My Island-My Community program has been made possible with the financial support of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, KfW on behalf of the German Financial Cooperation, Global Environment Fund Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP), implemented by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), USAID, The Nature Conservancy and the Global Island Partnership, with implementation being lead by PCI-Media Impact.

For more information, contact Jessica Robbins, Islands Communication Manager, PCI-Media Impact and GLISPA, jrobbins@mediaimpact.org