IUCN’s new video on forest landscape restoration (FLR) in Uganda, “Equipping Uganda for Restoration: Radio and Apps for Reforesting Landscapes” premiered as a winner in the Global Landscapes Forum Partner Video Awards on Dec 5, and is linked to a new report detailing how radio is helping farmers and communities in Uganda build their knowledge and capacity for sustainable land use.
In many African countries, radio is the most efficient and cost-effective way to share knowledge, especially among rural farmers and villagers. To reach these isolated communities, IUCN partnered with Farm Radio International (FRI) in Uganda to produce a radio programme on forest landscape restoration. On air throughout 2014, the interactive radio programme allowed farmers to explore the benefits, opportunities and challenges they might face in restoring degraded land, and helped them undertake forest landscape restoration (FLR) interventions suitable to their needs. IUCN also worked with partners to produce similar results through mobile technologies, using a new app to help farmers and communities choose the right species of tree for their specific needs.
The project focused on the District of Kapchorwa and Kween in the Mt. Elgon region of Uganda. Thousands of farmers and land users tuned into the 24-week participatory radio series and over a five-month period, 91% of listeners had used one of the techniques mentioned in the programme. As part of the project, a mobile phone application was developed with a clickable map that provides a list of suitable tree species or “the right tree for the right place.” Key to success were research, planning, and programme design, and especially wide consultation with stakeholders accessing the radio platform to share concerns, clarify issues, and raise questions affecting them and their livelihoods – questions such as “Do I change my land into a forest?” as one farmer said.
Reaching around 4,000 households in 80 villages, IUCN and FRI worked with stakeholders from inception to roll-out, including with local administration agencies, farmers associations, and local extension services. Initial surveys sought to find out the most liked and trusted radio stations, local attitudes and needs, local leadership and opinion formers, popular radio formats, and listenership patterns. In addition to knowledge about ways to restore forests, the benefits that result, and adapting land use methods to local soil and water conservation features, technical skills were shared on interviewing, storytelling, writing for radio, and recording and production techniques. Radio station staff also learned more on the use of mobile-based ICTs.
And villages not receiving a signal did not miss out. The radio “Boda Boda” project allowed content delivered by motorcycles or “boda-bodas” as they are known in East Africa. SD-card equipped wind-up and solar-powered free play radios were provided by FRI.
The new IUCN video about this innovative radio series, “Equipping Uganda for Restoration: Radio and Apps for Reforesting Landscapes,” is a GLF Partner Video Awards Winner at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) on the sidelines of UNFCCC COP21. The video premiered on 5 December just before the Opening Plenary, watched by nearly 3,000 people, including ministers and high-level attendees. Another special screening at COP21 will be held on 9 December at the IUCN Pavilion in the Blue Zone at 11:30 a.m. The video is accompanied by a detailed project report.
The project’s match of communications training, including interactive technology and forest restoration approaches suited to land types and local needs, was an innovative approach, as covered in the video and accompanying report. And as Uganda has committed to restoring 2.5 million hectares of forests as part of The Bonn Challenge, there is great potential for replicating this initiative in support of this commitment, using and adapting tools from this initial launch to implement forest landscape restoration throughout Uganda and beyond.