Radio communication and the engendering of community responsiveness to forest conservation in Rufiji, Tanzania

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University of Dar es Salaam
This study investigated the effectiveness of radio in communicating information to engender community responsiveness to forest conservation among communities in Tanzania. The presentation of the data and discussion of the findings were guided by the four objectives of the study. The study examined what functions radio plays in influencing communities’ responsiveness to forest conservation in Tanzania; assessed the framing and packaging of information on forest issues communicated through radio to inform the communities on conserving forests; explored the extent to which forest information communicated through the radio is accessible, understandable and utilisable among Rufiji community members; and finally, established and described noticeable changes, challenges, and opportunities associated with the role of radio in communicating forest information and engaging communities to conserve forests. Mixed methods or multimethods were deployed to collect data, analyse it, and interpret the research findings. For the first and second objectives, the study used content analysis of the Urithi Wetu (Our Heritage) programme produced and aired by TBC Taifa whereas for the third and fourth objectives, the study used a combination of questionnaires, interviews and focus group discussions to collect requisite data. The study applied the Agenda-setting theory to study how the media shaped public knowledge and influenced communities to conserve forests in Rufiji. This theory facilitated the assessment of the correlation between the emphasis that the radio placed on forest issues and the importance attributed to forest conservation by rural inhabitants of Rufiji. The study established that, contrary to the growing scientific evidence that mass media was the most effective vehicle in providing forest conservation education and creating awareness among the community members, radio was moderately effective in communicating forest information and enhancing community responsiveness to forest conservation in Rufiji, Tanzania. 24 percent and 25 percent of the respondents reported that radio had succeeded to set an agenda for forest conservation in Rufiji to a small degree and to a moderate degree, respectively. Furthermore, many of the respondents (37.1 %) reported that radio had increased environmental education and awareness only to a moderate degree whereas about 35.9 percent were confident that radio had influenced communities to take initiatives of conserving forests only to a moderate degree. The study found that the radio’s limitation to frame forest issues upon solutions, its failure to package properly forest information to resonate with and appeal to the rural inhabitants, poor packaging of forest information which failed to communicate different points-of-view from both government officials and rural inhabitants and lack of research during the production of the programme were obstacles that undermined the radio’s effectiveness in influencing community members to stop cutting down trees and conserve forests. It was established that lack of research prevented the producer’s capacity to air programmes which could, otherwise, have empowered community members to find alternative sources of income generation and refrain from wanton forest destruction.
Available in print form, East Africana Collection, Dr. Wilbert Chagula Library, Class mark (THS EAF SD418.3.T34Z33)
communication, conservation
Zacharia, M (2019) Radio communication and the engendering of community responsiveness to forest conservation in Rufiji, Tanzania Doctoral dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Dar es Salaam.