PMC staff members of Rwanda and the DRC pose for a photo
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Population Media Center Capacity Building with South-to-South Training

Apr 14, 2014

SHELBURNE, VT – When Gabin Kifukiau accepted the job of Country Representative in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for a United States nonprofit, he didn’t know that some of his training would come from Burundi and Rwanda. In March of 2014, Kifukiau and his DRC colleague traveled to Burundi, with a stop-over in Rwanda, to see how Burundians and Rwandans were operating country offices of US-based Population Media Center.

Population Media Center (PMC) works around the world to improve the health and well-being of people through storytelling. In order to tell real, authentic, and powerful stories, PMC knows that the writers and rest of the staff have to be from the country where the stories are being told. As PMC’s work has expanded, country offices have become so proficient that PMC has begun using local staffs to provide south-to-south training.

“Such meetings allow mutual enrichment and have many advantages,” says Kifukiau. “The most important is undoubtedly a valuable time saver in the approach used to solve potential operations management problems and implementation of program activities.”

Kifukiau and his team, like the Burundi and Rwandan teams, are working to produce long-running radio serial dramas that engage people and effect behavior change. South-to-south trainings allow the details of best practices to be transferred, supplementing the guidance from headquarters with on-the-ground recent experiences.

“We produce long-running dramas for radio and TV,” says PMC’s President Bill Ryerson, “which require our country teams to handle numerous tasks at once. Plus, they have to work within the framework of their country and establish partnerships for research, broadcast, distribution, and promotion. South-to-south training allows our country teams to help each other anticipate and overcome stumbling blocks.”

DRC is preparing to launch five radio serial dramas later this year, the most PMC has ever launched in one country simultaneously. The dramas will air in Lingala, Swahili, French, Tshiluba, and Kikongo. Kifukiau and his colleague hoped to learn from Burundi’s experience launching the 208-episode radio serial drama “Agashi,” (“Hey! Look Again!”) in January of 2014. The trip also allowed for a short visit in Rwanda, which produced and aired the 312-episode “Umurage Urukwiye” from 2007 to 2009 and is currently preparing for a new program that will launch in May of 2014.

“It’s the local experiences, the local understandings, that make the country offices efficient and effective and that result in real, colorful radio programs that connect with people,” says PMC’s Vice President for International Programs Kriss Barker. “We provide appropriate training and oversight, but they know their country. The south-to-south trainings are fabulous because we get to see the country teams’ excitement to share our framework and methodology with other country teams so that they can effect change within their community and create a real impact.”