|The Courier N° 158 - July - August 1996 - Dossier: Communication and the Media - Country Report: Cape Verde (EC Courier, 1996, 96 p.)|
|Communication and the media|
by Mand Rya Ngarara
The Support Group for the Disabled in Chad (AEHPT) was set up in 1987 with the assistance of the International Christian Service for Peace (EIRENE), which has its headquarters in Germany. By coming together to form a group, disabled people hoped to take charge of their lives and break down the wall of silence that surrounds them. However, despite setting up various workshops (welding workshops, small printing works, musical groups) and publishing an information newsletter, entitled 'Perspectives'. the AEHPT has been unable to improve the image of disabled people within Chad society and has failed to raise awareness that the work done by the disabled is not only of value, but deserves due recognition. From this status quo sprang the idea of broadcasting a national weekly radio programme called 'The Voice of the Disabled'.
There are two reasons why radio was chosen as the communication medium: firstly, the very strong oral tradition of the country, together with the population's weak purchasing power, which make access to newspapers difficult, means that radio remains the most appropriate medium for reaching a wide audience; and secondly, radio programmes are not difficult to produce, since they do not require vast technical, financial or human resources.
Letting the disabled have their say
Initially launched by the AEHPT, The Voice of the Disabled is now jointly produced and broadcast by four associations actively involved in defending the interests of those with disabilities. It is broadcast nationwide every Monday at peak listening times.
The programme is not, however, aimed solely at those with disabilities but, on the contrary, seeks to increase awareness in Chad society as a whole. It also acts as a platform from which to urge the authorities to take concrete measures to help this section of the population.
Today, more than a year after its launch, The Voice of the Disabled is enjoying tremendous success, with ever larger numbers of people, from all walks of life, tuning in. For the disabled themselves it provides a vast source of information, explaining the facts behind the causes of their disabilities and giving advice on how to prevent such disabilities and what can be done to treat them, and it keeps people informed about what is happening within the various associations for the disabled, giving information about the activities, projects and special events that are taking place. As far as the rest of the population is concerned, The Voice of the Disabled has helped to raise the profile of disabled people in Chad. Slowly but surely, people's preconceptions are beginning to change and one of the programme's greatest achievements has been to eradicate gradually the negative image which people used to have of disabilities.
Nevertheless, the lamentable fact remains that this programme is broadcast solely in French, and this is why plans are now in the pipeline to broadcast The Voice of the Disabled in both Arabic and Sara - Chad's two national languages.