The Multipurpose Community Tele-Centre which runs Radio Sengerema FM 98.8 secured a capacity building grant from TMF to promote mobile phone reporting in rural community groups, improve citizen journalism and enhance their radio programmes. On this project, 34 women from the ‘Wanawake wa Habari na Mawasiliano Sengerema’ group (WAHAMASE, which literally translates to ‘Sengerema Women for Information and Communication’) were trained by one-time TMF grantee Jacob Muginion basics in journalism. WAHAMASE seeks to educate women on how to use the media as a tool that can transform their social and economic wellbeing.

According to the Radio Manager, Ms Mercy Charles the impact created by the 34 ward reporters has been immense: “The training in mobile phone reporting has greatly transformed our approach to news gathering. We are guaranteed of a steady flow of relevant local news from all the 34 wards than was the case before. We are now sure of at least 10 news items from each ward per month.” 

At individual level, the impact is that the five ward reporters interviewed by the verifier showed good knowledge of the basics of journalism coupled with skills in using the mobile phones for newsgathering. Enoch Mabula, a Sengerema Radio listener, says, “The training and provision of mobile phones to news agents at ward level has increased the diversity of coverage because at least we, as listeners are now treated to a wide range of issues from all the 34 wards in the districts.”

Mashaka Karobero, Kasungamile Ward Reporter: ‘The one-week training empowered me. I had never imagined that one could capture a lot of issues using a mobile phone. The story of impact that I did with my mobile phone was about filthy latrines at Nyantakubwa Primary School. When I got wind of the dismal state of pupils’ latrines at the school, I visited the place and conducted interviews with the pupils and some teachers. I later asked to relieve myself in one of the latrines but the pupils told me to use the staff latrines which I found to be equally filthy. I did a story to that effect which eventually led to the demotion of the head teacher, Mr. Mumbile Majura, who now detests me for that. However, the good news is that decent latrines have been put up for the staff and pupils.’

Peter Malesa, Katunguru Ward Reporter: ‘The impact story I did using the mobile phone was when I covered Bugarama Primary School in Katunguru Ward. The school had a dilapidated roof in one of the classrooms, forcing the pupils and teachers to shift from one corner to another whenever it rained, or to vacate the classroom completely. When Radio Sengerema aired the story, the district authority took immediate action and the classroom was given a facelift. I’m proud of that as I was part of that change for the better.’