Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Search For Common Ground believes that radio has a "huge potential to have a positive impact on conflict, especially in Africa where it is by far the most effective method of communication."

Because of this, SFCG has initiated Radio for Peacebuilding, Africa. This project hopes to develop, spread and encourage the use of radio broadcasting techniques and content for the purpose of building peace in various communities which have suffered conflict.

According to SFCG: "We want this website to be a useful interactive tool for radio broadcasters in Africa and elsewhere. The site's objectives are to disseminate materials/knowledge created by radio professionals during the project (training manuals and audio programmes) and to develop positive interactions with you."

In particular, Search for Common Ground's Radio for Peacebuilding hopes to help sub-Saharan African radio broadcasters' develop their potential to have a constructive impact on conflicts of all kinds, to build on other successes and to share lessons learnt with other radio professionals across the continent.

Because conflicts in general are highly complex and operate on many different levels, "the project takes the form of a series of interlinked elements that complement each another." SFCG intends to ensure that each of these discrete elements will be pre-tested and assessed in a practical environment of professionals. Then it will be re-written or re-designed accordingly before being taken into a final or 'public' phase.

According to Search For Common Ground's web site:

The project is multi-pronged as follows:
# baseline attitudinal survey of African radio broadcasters' knowledge of, attitudes toward, and use of peacebuilding techniques
# two workshops for radio broadcasters to build new skills and techniques, and to help develop practical training manuals
# the development of three training manuals for radio professionals in English, French, Swahili and Hausa
# the production and broadcast of numerous exemplary programmes in English, French, Swahili and Hausa
# the development of training modules for media schools and colleges in Africa and elsewhere, so that the next generation of broadcasters knows, recognises and is able to use these techniques

After the analysis of the survey, we will select 20 well-known professionals from the respondents to take part in workshops. The goal of the workshops is to build new skills and techniques for peacebuilding and to help develop practical training manuals. It is hoped that the participants, as well as many other broadcasters, will contribute to the exemplary programmes.

Search For Common Ground states that: "the project's most important target audience is sub-Saharan African broadcasters themselves. However, by producing the programmes, the materials, and the website in the four languages, the project has an ultimate, potential target audience of about 73 million radio listeners in sub-Saharan Africa."

The project also provides manuals to help broadcasters achieve the intended goals.

Three of the manuals focuses on:
"Youth Radio for peacebuilding a guide"
"Radio Talkshows for Peacebuilding a guide" (2nd edition)
"How to produce a radio soap for conflict prevention/resolution"

Search For Common Ground feels that the success of this website relies partly on stakeholders in the global community and it asks for feedback on its site and ask that you write to: radiopeaceafrica@sfcg.be

Radio For Peacebuilding Africa (English version - the web site is also in Swahili, French and Hausa)


Tuesday, March 20, 2007


On 17 February, Their Royal Highnesses Prince Friso, Princess Mabel, Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands attended the world premiere of 'Bintou Were, a Sahel Opera' in Bamako, Mali. This musical spectacle was be held at an open-air theatre on the banks of the Niger. Prince Friso and Prince Constantijn. You may well wonder why the Prince and Princess were attending an opera performed in an open-air theatre in Mali; but the answer is simple. They are the Prince Claus Fund's honorary chairmen.

The Prince Claus Fund:
The Prince Claus Fund is a Netherlands foundation that aims at increasing cultural awareness and promoting exchange between culture and development. It also initiates and supports artistic and intellectual quality, creates platforms for debate and stimulates creative processes and artistic productions. The Prince Claus Fund is a platform for intercultural exchange and works jointly with individuals and organizations mainly in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean on the realization of activities and publications reflecting a contemporary approach to the themes of culture and development.

Background to the concept:
The idea of a Sahel Opera came originally from His Royal Highness Prince Claus of the Netherlands who died in 2002. His idea was to create an African opera production composed and performed by people from the various Sahel countries. During the many years he lived and worked in Africa, the Prince developed a great love for the continent and he felt that the Sahel region in particular had a wealth of talent in the fields of dance, music, design and fashion. He envisaged an opera that would highlight all those talents. The Fund established in his name took up the challenge to initiate the project. The Sahel Opera illustrates beautifully many dimensions of the link between culture and development. The Sahel region covers Mauritania, Cape Verde, Gambia, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Mali, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad.

The title of the opera is "Bintou-Were, An Opera of the Sahel" and the story takes place in a village in the Sahel. According to the Libretto: In the village "[y]oung people are confused and have no hope in the future, trapped as they are by natural disaster, war and dictatorship. Weary of life in Africa, they decide to leave and try to breach the walls that separate the Sahel from Europe. Bintou-Were, a former child soldier, is expecting a 'love child'. She decides to cross the barricades protecting the borders of Morocco and Spain along with several other people she has met in her hectic life. If the perilous attack of the barbed wire of Melilla is successful, and the baby waits to be born on the other side, will there be a 'right of asylum' for all those claiming paternity of Bintou-Were's baby?"
In the drama of this story, all "social levels intersect in this modern day odyssey. Those on the road to exile encounter others who are returning." From the ethnic Fulani shepherd to the delinquent apprentice who has been jailed several times, from the woman who is following her husband to the enigmatic frontier runner who is the king pin of the puzzle they challenge one another in their songs.

A durable project:
The Prince Clause Fund says: "The Sahel Opera is more than simply a first-rate, spectacular performance, attended by many people in Africa and beyond; it is also a durable project with a lasting, though partly intangible influence. New talent has been scouted for the Opera and has received an international platform. The Opera has created direct employment and, once the project is finished, the people involved will have skills and experience that help them develop new collaborative relations in the region and beyond, a process of broadening intercultural exchange. Furthermore, the production has created a new infrastructure - both cultural and logistical - that will remain."

The Sahel Opera Project

The Prince Clause Fund

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


I have seen more and more NGOs who are trying to accomplish their missions with the help of on-line volunteers run into difficulty, I was very happy to see this article published by On Line Volunteering dot Org. I have reprinted it here in its entirety and the authors may be found at On Line Volunteering .org


A well-planned and well-formulated assignment is the starting point for a successful online collaboration.

When planning an assignment, make sure to:

CLEARLY DEFINE THE TASK: Break your needs down into clearly defined tasks and create one assignment per task, e.g. (assignment 1) ‘Develop website’ and (assignment 2) ‘Edit website content’. This will increase your chances of finding the most qualified online volunteers for the respective tasks.

ENSURE SUSTAINABILITY: To ensure the sustainability of an online volunteer’s contribution, think about how the online volunteer can help develop your organization’s skills. For example, don’t just ask for an online volunteer to update your website, but ask him or her to teach you how to do it yourself.

When formulating the assignment, do it in a clear, precise and detailed way. Make sure to:

CHOOSE A MEANINGFUL TITLE: It is on the basis of the title that potential applicants will assess whether it is worth seeking more information in the detailed assignment description. The title should therefore be descriptive and reflect the task which the online volunteer is expected to perform (e.g. ’Help design website’), rather than the volunteer position (‘Website designer’). This is more appropriate to the volunteer nature of the assignment and helps attract the interest of qualified online volunteers.

INCLUDE DETAILS: The more information online volunteers have before deciding whether they want to apply for an assignment, the more focused the applications are which you receive. Hence, in addition to clearly describing the task you expect the online volunteer to carry out, include further details about the assignment, e.g. the kind of materials the volunteer will be translating, the number of pages of the document, and about the support your organization will provide.

HIGHLIGHT IMPACT: Online volunteers are always interested to see how their contribution is used and how their assignment deliverable benefits the organization and those it serves -- adding this information will make your assignment more attractive for potential candidates.