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Final Project Report: Voices from Rural Liberia

 

 

LIBERIA MEDIA DEVELOPMENT FY – 2017

Project Final Report

 

For the Project Title

 

Voices from Rural Liberia

Project period

01JUL2017 – 28FEB2018

NAME OF SUBRECIPIENT:

Local Voices Media Network

 

Submitted to:

 

Ozioma Y. E. Zayzay | Strategic Partnerships Manager Internews – Liberia

USAID Liberia Media Development (LMD) Program

ozayzay@internews.org |Skype oziomae

Mobile: +231 886 542 064/ +231 777 542 064

Address: 19th Street/Payne Avenue, Monrovia, Liberia

www.internews.org| facebook.com/internews

 

Submitted by:

Henry B. Gboluma, Jr.

PROJECT OFFICER

Local Voices Media Network

(+231-888-185-747/+231-778-458-143)

www.localvoicesliberia.com

 

Submitted Date:

February 14, 2018

PROJECT OVERALL BACKGROUND:

The 2017 election was unique because it was the first time that a sitting president peacefully transferred power to another democratically elected president. The presidential election got a lot of coverage.  Therefore, local politics were at the heart of rural communities, where Local Voices Media Network reporters’ played a major part.

Under the Internews 2017 HACKATHON Project titled “Voices from Rural Liberia” with funding from USAID Liberia Media development Program (LMD).

Under this Award, the following activities were successfully implemented

  1. Redesigned the Local Voices website (localvoicesliberia.com) and included a multi-media platform.
  1. Increased Local Voices reporters by six from 15 to 21.
  1. Subsequently, three LVL team members were taught basic skills in website administration including uploading news stories, photos, audio clips, and videos on the redesigned organization’s website – localvoicesliberia.com.
  1. 20 members of LVL from across the 15 counties of Liberia participated in a three-day (July 31 – August 2, 2017) training workshop conducted by Internews.

This training helped improved the reporters’ skills on gathering, writing and reporting news focusing on the local community angles. Reporters were taught how to use social media platforms with smartphones to report from the field to provide live coverage of the 2017 presidential and representative elections in Liberia.

  1. Supports were given to reporters in gathering news during the electoral process. Additionally, they were supplied with smartphones equipped with a mobile app which allows live on-the-field coverage or reports of the electoral process including town hall debates, political rallies and recording electorates’ views among others from rural areas.
  1. Note: We had a well-developed implementation plan and data repository with built-in flexibility well suited to tracking project progress on the website and social media platforms. The APP encourages the network to set meaningful and measurable benchmarks as the basis for assessing performance and impact against the project goals. This helped us document achievements in monthly progress reports early submitted and continued to provide knowledge management for organizational learning.

KEY ACHIEVEMENTS

As a result of this project, we successfully reached 78,981people in and out of Liberia through the network social media platforms and redesigned website – www.localvoicesliberia.com. Note: This does not include our community radio stations’ audiences.

Specifically, During the Project Period we were able to:

 

  1. Produced 94 human interest stories and published on the website (localvoicesliberia.com). Out of which 84 were local contents elections related articles/stories. The Local voices Website publication alone reached 2,136 people.
  1. Fourteen (14) elections related and human-interest news videos were uploaded to the network social media account netting a total of 75,662 viewers and 475 likes. And 23% of the top audiences’ viewers were females while 77% were males.

For the Local Voices Liberia’s Spreaker shows, the following statistics have been collected so far from content uploaded to the app:

  1. 39 Episodes were uploaded to our Spreaker shows. They are also available on our website and Facebook account.
  2. 1,183 people were able to play and listened to the audio contents uploaded. Additionally, there were 7 likes and 6 downloads.

 

KEY AREAS OF FOCUS ABSTRACT

  • The work of LVL focused on three important election-related areas: Lifting the voices of locals in rural communities during the electoral processes and providing coverage for the LMD Town hall debates including related activities.

 

GENERAL IMPACTS

 

  • The project enables our members to expand their capacity by providing a unique opportunity to work as journalists for their respective communities through the community radio stations during the 2017 elections
  • It improves our ability to do multimedia reporting, which greatly impacted our credibility in Liberia and abroad even up to present.
  • Our social media platform/Facebook account has become a reliable and trusted source of rural/county news in Liberia. Our Facebook page continues to provide local contents (reports, photos, and analysis) to individuals in and outside of Liberia.
  • As of February 14, 2018, there were 5,546 who are followers of the page.
  • Our reports also help shaped voters’ discussions to ensure they made informed decisions during the first round on October 10 elections and the December 26, 2017, runoff presidential election.
  • Several of our elections photos were used by some Liberian media and most importantly, internationally acclaimed Cable News Network (CNN) featured some of our elections photos on its website.

 

CHALLENGES  

We may not have reached everyone in all corners of the country to lift their voices or highlight issues affecting them during the entire electoral cycle, though we made every effort in pluralizing and lifting rural voices through stories produced during the period.

 However, our overall experience in covering the 2017 general electoral process was very positive despite the challenges mentioned below:

  1. Limited resources to cover elections in rural Liberia.
  2. The bad road network in remote areas in the country,
  3. Lack of GSM or Internet in some part of Liberia, and difficulty in accessing Internet connectivity in the rural part of some counties.

 

LESSONS LEARNED

  1. Implementing this project, we learned that one of the best ways to curtail some of these challenges associated with elections reporting was extensive training and needed resources – both material and research resources that our reporters need.
  1. Following the town hall debates, we learned that it was one of the best ways Liberians could have interacted with candidates in order to learn more about them and their platforms within a short period of time.
  1. We also gathered that people in rural Liberia gained confidence in our work to help tell their stories since the problem affects us as well. This is because most of our reporters also live in these communities and understands the issues.

 

Project sustainability

 Our Motto: Lifting local voices, empowering communities goes well with the overall description of the primary objective of this Internews’ USAID funded Liberia Media Development project, which aims to increase all Liberian citizens’ access to independent and reliable information and empowerment to engage in well-informed public discussion of important issues of the day. This was the objective upon which we implemented the Hackathon project.

Besides, ensuring that we lift the voices of local people across rural Liberia to national and internal level, there are some lasting change and pieces of evidence already documented through this project, which is potentially conducive to a long-term sustainability due to the high-levels of responsiveness we gathered from many communities.

To sustain this momentum, it will be crucial to continue encouraging buy-in and also focus on developing capacity, skills, and understanding different stakeholders to continue using methods and approaches once funding comes to an end.

Finally, by strengthening links between partner (s), local and national advocacy work, ideally in association with a strong advocacy partner and by making best use of the available research and policy information consolidated in the baseline public reports, fact sheets and policy briefs the project will stand a greater chance of pushing to amplify local voices at all level in our society. This, we think, seeks to specifically ensure long-term impact. By that, the community or public shall continually gain confidence in our works thus putting us in a better position to getting support to implement more projects that would enlighten the community about basic socio-economic and political issues impacting their lives. 

 

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