Islamic Relief Arabic
Islamic Relief

Mali/People and Projects

Desert Sounds Help Mali Nomads
(31 May 2005)
Radio station

It is almost as distant as Timbuktu, just across the Niger river. Gourma Rharous is a fairly under-developed region along the Sahara desert in Mali where Islamic Relief has been working since 1997.

Not everyone owns a TV, or even has an electricity supply, but most people have access to radio. In remote desert areas, radio is a lifeline that connects isolated communities with the outside world.

Al Akhbar

When Islamic Relief wanted to get its message across, the most effective way was to set up its own radio station.

‘Al Akhbar,’ which means ‘The News,’ is a community radio station that reaches 37,000 people in 22 villages.

Broadcast in local languages, it runs daily cultural and social programmes which are an information lifeline bringing the community closer together.

Regular programme themes include education, the environment, health awareness and women and children’s issues.

Connecting Communities

Islamic Relief’s work in Mali involves community development, which means working with local people and helping them to develop successful civil societies.

This can be challenging in isolated rural areas but Al Akhbar is able to reach these communities and encourage them to set up local initiatives.

The local communities also play a vital role in managing programmes and ensure that Al Akhbar gives people a voice to air their views and concerns.

Family in Mali with IR worker

Saving Lives

One of Al Akhbar’s major achievements has been its role in promoting peace and reconciliation between conflicting communities such as the local population of Gourma Rharous and nomad refugees who returned after a five-year war.

Another significant moment was when a cholera epidemic broke out in Gourma Rharous. The state health service used the radio station to alert the public, and Al Akhbar also broadcast information on prevention and treatment, which helped to bring an end to the cholera outbreak. It also empowered the local community by highlighting their ability to play an active role in changing their lives for the better.

Three years after it was first set up, Al Akhbar radio station is no longer dependent on external funding and is able to sustain itself with advertising. It is so popular that almost everyone in the area tunes into it, from council chiefs to desert nomads.

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