While violence has largely subsided, Cote d’Ivoire is still suffering from the effects of the post-electoral crisis that resulted in more than 3,000 deaths and left tens of thousands of people displaced, following the December 2010 disputed presidential election. In recent months, there have been a series of alarming outbreaks of violence that have led to a new wave of internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Now, Radio Voix du Guémon, a much-needed outlet for local information in Duekoué, a town in the west of the country that was severely impacted by conflict, has returned to the airwaves after an 18-month absence.
During the fighting, the radio station was looted and burned to the ground. This has left a significant portion of the local population and IDPs without any credible information, something that became especially worrisome this past July when a camp with 5,000 IDPs was attacked and burned down.
Recognizing the important need for information in Duekoué, Internews worked with the United Nations Mission in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and other international organizations including UNFPA, International Rescue Committee, and UNHCR, asking for their support in rebuilding the station. According to Albert Koenders, Special Representative of the Secretary General of the UN in Cote d’Ivoire, UNOCI provided new equipment for the station because of the strong sense of local ownership that Internews has helped to build within the community. “What Internews has done is unique in the world,” stated Mr. Koenders.
Internews’ project in Cote d’Ivoire supports local radio stations in the west of the country, the region that has been most affected by the electoral crisis and its aftermath, where there is acute need for credible, neutral information.
The Internews program focuses on building the capacity of six radio stations, covering Moyen Cavally and Montagnes, the two main Western provinces, and even deep inside neighboring Liberia, where tens of thousands of Ivorian refugees still remain. One of the main priorities has been to establish feedback groups with representatives from villages and neighborhoods. Thus far each station has managed to establish at least 20 groups whose members provide important feedback, information and even financial support.