Working in conjunction with the Foundation for West Africa (FWA) and L’Union des Radios Associatives et Communautaires du Senegal (URAC), Le Korsa has helped the commune of Missirah create a community radio station in the village of Gouloumbou, located on the national road between Tambacounda and Kedougou, right at the turnoff for Sinthian.
The station, which opened in April 2019, is the result of over four years of planning and construction, and is now fully operational. Many local associations, including the collective of banana growers — the largest employers in the region — are members of the station, ensuring it has broad support. Members pay a yearly fee, which goes towards operations and programming.
The Board of Directors has hired Madame Rougui Souare of Koar as the Station Manager and Monsieur Abdoulaye Kanté (a former Le Korsa scholarship student) from Sinthian as Program Director. They underwent training at a station in Ndiaganiaw, near Thiès. Together, the director and her new team of six staff, combination of paid and volunteer positions, have hammered out details on programming and operations. Stories will be produced by citizen journalists, on the topics that are most important to the community, and be broadcast in local languages including Bambara, Mandinka, Pulaar, Serer, and Wolof.
Such a station will ensure that the local populations can voice their needs, access fair and sound journalism, and receive news pertinent to their daily lives.
FWA works in other parts of West Africa, mainly Liberia and Sierre Leone, helping to expand the networks of community-led stations. They are involved with the stations at various levels, including the construction and/or placement of the radio towers, the training of fair and balanced journalists, and the creation of a board of directors to develop the stations in a way that represents the needs of the communities in which they work.
In April 2015, Le Korsa and FWA invited Awa Diouf (speaking in the above video) and Talla Dieng, URAC representatives, to Tambacounda and its surrounding villages, where Le Korsa has already developed medical centers, schools, and a cultural center, to determine if a radio station would benefit the region. Their report showed that the area, which has many rural and isolated communities, but also over 50 local associations — these include agricultural, economic, sports and women’s rights groups — would greatly benefit from a station.
Awa and Talla conducted interviews with focus groups throughout the region, ultimately meeting with 200 people between the ages of 12 and 75. Of these 200, 190 said that they regularly listen to the radio, which illustrates the medium’s popularity — and its efficacy as a means of communication — among the population. When asked about what subjects would be most beneficial for a community radio station to broadcast, 51% of respondents identified community-related news as the most important subject. Other subjects of interest were communication with parents and relatives outside the community; information on employment; and cultural and informational exchange with different communities.
Awa and Talla also examined three separate sites for the location of the radio station: Missirah, Sinthian and Gouloumbou. The best sites are those that are culturally diverse and economically viable. Based on those criteria, they determined that Gouloumbou is the best location. It lies on the national route and is in proximity to the village of Sinthian and to the city of Tambacounda; being in the banana-producing zone of the region, it has a relatively solid economic situation; it has a police force; and its population has recently applied to have Gouloumbou serve as the future administrative seat of a new commune in the region.