On 10 December, 2013, twenty-one participants representing nine community radios in Tanzania (Sengerema, FADECO, Orkonorei FM, Kahama, Pangani FM, Kyela, Pambazuko, Mtegani and Micheweni) joined to assess the progress towards using ICTs to support and strengthen local radio broadcasting. Gaining from exchanges with experts and one another, participants came up with a strategy to establish monitoring and evaluation capacities of the local radios by advising them to set up M&E portfolios among their staff, as well as training and coaching for M&E representatives from community radios, crucial for extending and improving data collection. The event was facilitated by UNESCO and supported by SIDA through the project “Empowering Local Radios with ICTs”.
Equipped with background knowledge on the status of monitoring and evaluation in local radios, participants also recommended the development of job descriptions for monitoring focal points. They also discussed and developed monitoring tools and modalities to standardize data entry and simplify practical analysis. Through lessons learned and best practices, participants expect to increase their monitoring capacities in the application of these tools to improve their programming and ensure it is responsive to their diverse local audiences.
Challenges in analyzing the reports were discussed, such as the synchronization of data input formats. Some participants were frustrated by the process saying, “It was intimidating, the tools are not friendly, and we have been sending reports for the sake of doing.” One of the participants reflected on the way forward, saying, “If we want this monitoring process to be done effectively through the local radio with best practices hosting a hands-on workshop for us to learn by doing.”
As this idea took hold, participants’ mindsets also began to change. They assessed each other’s progress in monitoring reports generated by each radio, and began to recognize elements that could be replicated for effective, simple methods and institutional processes. Pangani FM in particular was recognized as having the best reports. Representatives from Pangani, distinguished for having its own Monitoring & Evaluation team, shared best practices with their colleagues, and agreed to host a follow-up workshop at the station to demonstrate their techniques.