Afghanistan

DaPulayPoray Drama Audience Research, November-December 2014

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Introduction to Da Pulay Poray Drama:

Da Pulay Poray Radio Drama was first born in Swat, in 2008, when what was then PACT Radio was running a radio station in Mingora, the capital of Swat.
The aim of PACT Radio was to find “traditional solutions to modern problems”, in other words to elicit and broadcast the ideas of the masses regarding the problems people face in every walk of life.
Da Pulay Poray means cross-­‐border.
Some of these everyday issues were channelled into storylines of a day-­‐to-­‐day radio drama – Da Pulay Poray Drama.
PACT Radio aspired to broadcast in Pashto to people on both sides of Pak-­‐ Afghan border, enabling them to help each other to address and seek solutions for the issues they are facing in their lives.
The issues that came to light in reports made by PACT Radio reporters, and other issues that were encountered in real life, were incorporated into Da Pulay Poray Drama storylines.
Due to funding and broadcasting difficulties,
Da Pulay Poray Drama lapsed in 2010, to be revived in 2013 on the other side of the Pak-­‐Afghan border.
The characters of the drama who had been refugees on the eastern side of the border, had now become returnee refugees in their native Afghanistan.
Though the actual geographical location that they had returned to is not specified in the radio drama, it is envisaged that it might be somewhere in the vicinity of Kunar, in eastern Afghanistan.
This impression is reinforced by the fact that a PACT Communications1 team in Jalalabad – also in eastern Afghanistan – produces the radio drama and most of the actors are from that part of the country. Naturally, being based around the fates of returnee families, the drama concentrates a lot on the problems faced by returnee refugees: land being appropriated during time of taking refuge in another country, rights of widows, problem of re-­‐integration into society for those who have studied in madrassahs on the other side of the border.
The village where Da Pulay Poray Drama is based – Kandao Village – is located in a scenic but also disaster-­‐prone spot.
It is also situated in an area outside government control – difficult to access.
This setting of Da Pulay Poray Drama has been chosen with the central theme of the drama – humanitarian access – in mind.
In order to facilitate the access of humanitarian assistance, the villagers spend a lot of time democratically organising themselves into a council – shura – which is generally at odds with the local village Malik.
This is a conflict that is replayed in countless villages all over Afghanistan, and which is reflected in Da Pulay Poray Drama. In accordance with the original aim of Da Pulay Poray Drama, the aim is to reflect real life issues in the storylines of the drama.
Sometimes, these true to life issues come to light on an emergency basis.
In order to reflect critical issues quickly, Da Pulay Poray Drama has been made into streamlined, as well as economical operation.
Issues that come to light in real life can be converted into storylines in ten days – an extremely short lead-­‐in period compared to other similar radio dramas which can take as much as three months between initial storyline development and broadcasting.
For example, when floods struck in the north of Afghanistan in the spring of 2014, the floods were replicated and reflected within two weeks in a gripping storyline of Da Pulay Poray Drama.
Similarly, reflecting its cross-­‐border nature, when in real life refugees from Waziristan came teeming across the border to Khost and Paktika, in response to a military operation in Waziristan, the situation was reflected in Kandao Village, where the villagers had to cater for an influx of refugees from across the border.
Similarly, when a clinic run by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan became a casualty of fighting in Wardak province, and this issue was communicated by SCA to Da Pulay Poray Drama, a storyline on the importance of respecting public utilities – in particular medical facilities – was on air within a short time.
Naturally, such storylines require expert technical input.
In order to ensure that the messages communicated are to the point and true to life,
Da Pulay Poray has a range of experts to which it can turn.
Da Pulay Poray Drama has turned to the Information Counselling and Legal Advice (ICLA) department of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), for advice on widows’ and returnee rights, to the Eastern Area Office of NRC for inside information regarding the refugee situation in Khost and to the Emergency Programme of NRC for detailed information – and important messages – to be communicated following the flooding in northern Afghanistan.
NRC has also been the main funder of Da Pulay Poray Drama, from an ECHO grant under its Humanitarian Access programme.
The National Endowment for Democracy has provided funding for storylines on grassroots democracy.
It was important that detailed audience research should be conducted into listenership and impact of Da Pulay Poray Drama, both for the benefit of the production company, who would be able to respond to the impressions of listeners for the improvement of the drama, and for the information of donors, who are concerned that their messages should be understood, and having an impact on the audience.
Audience research would also provide useful information for other potential donors, who might feel that the radio drama provides a good medium for communication of messages, in line with their programmes and in order to address the needs of the Afghan people – particularly in far-­‐flung, difficult to access rural areas where radio is still the most popular mass media.
The funding for this audience research came from NRC Head Office in Oslo, and the sum that they provided was augmented from the ICLA programme at NRC Afghanistan.

Da Pulay Poray Drama is fortunate to have Arakozia FM as its broadcasting partner.
The parts of Afghanistan where the Arakozia signal is heard – see the map below – are exactly those areas in which Da Pulay Poray Drama seeks to make its mark.
The research sought to find out more about the listenership of Arakozia FM – the Pashto broadcasting arm of the Moby Media Group that is responsible for Tolo and Lamar TV as well as Arman FM – as well as the following and impact of Da Pulay Poray Drama.