Walde Ejef: a symbol of media resilience in a conflict zone
Walde Ejef (Walde from Fulfulde and Ejef from Tamashek) means “Association of the inhabitants of the dunes”. The only radio station to broadcast in Gorom-Gorom (Burkina Faso) had to adapt to the security situation.
“Before the crisis, we didn’t have many taboos. Now, we can no longer afford to talk about certain things, such as sexual and reproductive health,” says Oumarou Dicko, head of Gorom-Gorom’s Walde Ejef radio station. “This means that we try to choose topics and words carefully to avoid anything that could be offensive,” he stresses.
Due to the security situation, the radio station, which was launched in 2002, was forced to adapt and review its programming. “We changed the times of our programmes so that our presenters could get home before nightfall. We’re now limited to 6pm rather than 9pm,” explains the Sahel native, who is highly invested in his community and his radio station.
In this situation, “MediaSahel was a great help to us,” says Oumarou Dicko. “We’ve built on our knowledge of information, education, communication (IEC), management and interview techniques. This has helped our presenters to choose their words carefully when they’re on air.”
"The radio station’s future will depend on how the security situation unfolds”
The fact remains that the station manager—who is now forced to wear the cap of both president of the association and director—was not able to achieve the restructure that he wanted. "We wanted to create a new organisation chart and set up a management committee for the station. We decided to recruit a director, but unfortunately he didn’t stay when the situation deteriorated,” he says.
As a result, he remains cautious about the future. "So far, we have been able to take precautions to continue broadcasting, but we don’t know when the situation might change. The radio station’s future will depend on how the security situation unfolds,” he notes. "If our facilities are attacked, we'll have difficulty starting up again because we’re a community radio station.”
Until the future gets brighter, Oumarou Dicko’s commitment and perseverance make him a role model for his peers.