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Radio Sigida Joli (‘Building Community’)




Radio Sigida Joli seeks to create a space for community dialogue, leadership development, and collaboration through biweekly radio segments and, more recently, listeners groups. The program targets Sikoro, a peri-urban community on the outskirts of Bamako, Mali, although content is relevant to all peri-urban dwellers and the show’s one million listeners come from around the country.

Slum communities like Sikoro face political, social, and economic marginalization, in addition to serious challenges around access to clean water, tenable housing, sanitation, and health care. Political structures are less responsive to Sikoro as fewer residents vote or pay taxes. Ironically, residents cite a failure of the government to provide basic services as the primary reason for their disengagement. Within this context, Radio Sigida Joli aims to:

  • increase civil society solutions to pressing social problems,
  • improve communication and accountability between slums and their governments, and
  • help individuals exercise their rights.

Operating mode

Broadcasts are led by two local announcers in Bambara, and include call-in segments, interviews, and dramatizations on topics ranging from management of local clinics to malaria prevention to voting. Many series focus on identifying specific challenges in Sikoro, analyzing the causes, assessing resources available to address them, and discussing potential solutions.

Launched in April 2009, the show remains ongoing and lacks a designated completion date. Current listenership is estimated at one million across the country. The primary targets of the program are women and youth, although listeners of diverse backgrounds enjoy the show. The recent launch of six listeners groups, focused on youth, seeks to facilitate greater collective action following discussions on the show with training on participatory analysis and project planning.

Impact and challenges

Financing has come primarily from private donors and foundations, and costs for the program are relatively small given the population reached. A comprehensive participatory analysis of the program in 2011 will seek to evaluate the full impact of the show and provide more robust details on the programs’ results. Initial survey respondents point to the significant popularity of the show as well as a changing attitude towards voting and taxes among listeners.

Primary challenges for the program have included voluntary involvement of public officials who fear heavy criticism from residents disenchanted with what they perceive as broken promises. However, as the program has become more well known, progress has been made in developing programs and community events through which to facilitate government–citizen communication.