Mozambique - IOM is hoping that its new radio drama series in Mozambique will help people to be better prepared for natural disasters which routinely hit the southern African country - and so avoid their devastating consequences.
Entitled "Bravos do Zambeze" (Zambeze Braves), the story focuses on a village soccer team captain, Jose, and his girlfriend Suzanne. When their village is hit by a terrible flood and the community is completely unprepared for it, Jose and his team mates try to get everyone to safety. The ensuing episodes of the drama serial deal with the consequences of the flooding through the lives of the people in the village - what can happen if people are not prepared, and the importance of sticking together as a community.
Divided into two parts, the second half of "Bravos do Zambeze" deals mainly with the process of rebuilding, as well as the importance of adapting to the reality of increasingly frequent and severe weather patterns.
The aim of the series is to communicate specific useful information about longer-term disaster management and planning, including farming and building techniques that are more disaster resistant and preparing for an evacuation plan for future emergencies.
In recent years, natural disasters in Mozambique have caused widespread devastation of social and economic infrastructure like farms, roads, schools and homes, causing large-scale displacement. Between 2000 and 2008, the country was hit by several severe floods and cyclones that forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes. In 2000 alone, at least a quarter of a million people were displaced to 89 makeshift camps as the result of flooding. The 2007 flooding along the Zambezi River threatened an estimated 285,000 people in river communities and displaced about 163,000 persons.
For Mozambique, faced with such regular human displacement and loss of homes, lives and livelihoods, greater knowledge of what a community can do to protect itself can go a long way to lessening the impact of natural disasters and the suffering they cause.
For IOM, the media and initiatives like Bravos do Zambeze play a critical role in bringing about that behavioural change through increasing personal knowledge of what people and communities can do to help themselves.
Particularly effective is providing that information in an entertaining way so that it motivates people to take the initiative.
"We chose doing a radio serial because from previous emergency assessments in the aftermath of floods, we knew that there was a lack of communication resources in the Zambeze valley region that was a serious obstacle. This was compounded by language barriers. When we actually began our assistance programmes, we found that community radio played a vital role in providing real-time information and in overcoming language issues," says IOM Mozambique's Chief of Mission, Stuart Simpson.
The first 13 five-minute episodes of "Bravos do Zambeze", produced both in Portuguese (the Mozambican national language) and Sena (a local language around the Zambezi Valley), are currently being broadcast on four community radio stations throughout the Zambeze valley region. The second season of 13 episodes is due to be aired in early 2010.