Profs, Students Develop Radio Drama For Nigerian Farmers

July 25, 2008 - News Release

University of Guelph professors and students are hoping to use drama to communicate with Nigerian farmers about the impacts of climate change.

Profs. Helen Hambly and John FitzSimons, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, have helped develop a 26-episode radio drama to air in four states across Nigeria this fall, reaching some 25 million people.

They are working on the project in partnership with two Nigerian organizations, the African Radio Drama Association and the Women Farmers Action Network, as well as with the Canadian organization Farm Radio International.

"They came to the University of Guelph not only because we have expertise in agriculture ecology, but also in rural radio," said Hambly, who has studied ways to use radio as an educational tool in Africa. "We are hoping to use radio as a way to help farmers be aware and discuss the implications of climate change. Radio is a very appropriate media for non-literate farmers, especially in oral cultures where spoken word is much more powerful than anything written on paper."

FitzSimons is providing technical information on how climate change affects small-scale farming in Nigeria. Along with Hambly, he is also helping to ensure that the science can be easily understood by rural farmers and be relevant to their needs.

Two U of G master's students, Melissa Yule and Adam Doran, are spending the summer in northern Nigeria gathering information and helping to assist the partner organizations in developing the radio drama.

Small-scale farming in northern Nigeria is already being affected by the rising temperatures, drought conditions and unpredictable rainy seasons caused by climate change, said Hambly.

"The radio drama allows for characters to talk about the issues and about different solutions. With climate change there is never just one solution but rather a number of adaptations."

Funded by the International Development Research Centre and the Department for International Development in the United Kingdom, the drama is based on a woman who leaves a career in radio broadcasting to return to farming on her family's land. Climate change has intensified drought conditions and neither the farm nor its cattle herds are producing as well as before.

The story includes plenty of entertaining twists including love, jealousy and death. Integrated into the drama is helpful information such as how to maintain soil fertility, benefits of intercropping, proper seed storage and efficient water harvesting techniques, said Hambly.

"Through this drama, farmers will be able to see people like themselves going through similar problems they experience and finding solutions. They will be able to see that their situation is not totally hopeless."

Prof. Helen Hambly
School of Environmental Design and Rural Development
519-824-4120, Ext. 53408

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338/, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982/

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