“Our Environment” isn’t like any other radio programme. It brings an environmental message to the airwaves during these unprecedented times. Created by the Togo-based community organization Women Volunteers Stand Up for Sustainable Development (FVDD, Femmes Volontaires Debout pour le Développement Durable), Our Environment is changing the way communities learn about land degradation and biodiversity loss as well as food security.
The radio programme is broadcasted on radio “RVP – Voix des Plateaux” (Voice of the Plateaus) 96.5, which covers the Togo plateau region. With the support of local radio hosts, the Prefectural Director of Environment and Forest Resources, FVDD broadcasts 90-minute radio segments in French, English and local languages over a period of 30 days, according to financial capacities.
Sharing the experience at BES-Net’s first-ever virtual Trialogue for Francophone Africa in November 2020, Mrs. Rosine Amalamedi, President of FVDD, said, “Here in Togo, the threats to nature can be explained by the low level of knowledge about socioeconomic issues’ relationship to the ecosystem, resulting in an irreversible and significant biodiversity loss. This is the reason that we at FVDD try to raise awareness and appeal specifically to women and children.”
Mrs. Amelamedi was one of many Togolaise participants at the BES-Net virtual Trialogue who shed light on the multi-dimensional challenges that have arisen due to COVID-19. Despite the virus, incredible solutions were brought forth in support of agroecology, food security and environmental education for the public – all in hopes of reducing the impacts on biodiversity loss.
Mrs. Amelamedi shared, “Climate change, land conservation, protection of biodiversity and the politicizing of these issues concern all communities without distinction of social rank, sex or age. Therefore, education must begin from an early age and reach all populations. School clubs are one way to share the ideas of sustainable development while focusing on local issues such as awareness of the disappearing trees.”
At the start of the pandemic, FVDD raised awareness about COVID-19 in schools and insisted that prevention measures be strictly observed. They also provided face masks and instructed on hand washing. When the impact of the virus began to progress, the Togolaise government mandated social distancing measures and halted many activities, including environmental education school clubs. FVDD made the bold choice to train community members in radio programming as a means to preserve and promote their intergenerational knowledge. Mrs. Amelamedi states, “For a while, we were able to provide information and resources in the local communities by going door to door, but the radio programme was a new means of reaching the whole world.”
In the absence of regular school clubs, Our Environment’s listeners can continue to learn about these critical issues. Listeners learn about local trees’ numerous uses, humanity’s interdependent relationship with them, as well as how to plant and maintain these trees. They also learn about the importance of pollination. “The value of pollination is medicinal, nutritional and ultimately essential for food security here in Togo,” says Mrs. Amelamedi.
She emphasizes FVDD’s grassroots structure: “You will not find great executives among us or experts, but it is a pilot mission that we have created; we are determined to make local projects. Each one of us must act little by little in our own corner, and we will combine our efforts to support the nature where we live. The rural radio is effective, but our presence in person is necessary to continue spreading awareness on COVID-19 as long as it exists”. Mrs. Amelamedi believes FVDD students will become environmental educators to future generations. “This generation will be able to reduce negative actions on the ecosystem.”