Tayna Radio Station Rising from the Ashes
A community radio station in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo that was recently looted and burned to the ground by an armed militia is on its way back to the airwaves, thanks to a determined effort by the Tayna community, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, Conservation International, and other partners. The station is operated by students at the Tayna Center for Conservation Biology (TCCB). TCCB is the unique "conservation university" established by the same local leaders who started a federation of community-managed nature reserves, including Tayna, with the help of the Fossey Fund. The station has broadcast information about conservation, other local issues and international news to some 300,000 people in the area since 2004, as well as providing journalism training to TCCB's students. It is the only broadcast signal available to many remote villages.
"We consider this vital information service a high priority," says DFGFI's President and CEO Clare Richardson. "Thanks to our partner Conservation International and our supporters, TCCB was able to order equipment and begin reconstruction right away, but there is still a need for funds to complete the new facility." Getting the station back on the air is costing $15,000. Conservation International has provided $5,000, and the Fossey Fund has been seeking matching donations.
When the station was attacked during the night of February 11, staff escaped and no one was hurt, although patients at the nearby Tayna community clinic who could see the radio station through their windows fled in fear. The station is located on top of a hill on the edge of TCCB's campus. No other facilities were attacked and other conservation and development activities in the area continued to function normally. A visit to TCCB by Richardson and other dignitaries proceeded as planned on February 12. Local people immediately began to clean the site and collect building materials.
"We thank Conservation International and the Fossey Fund for helping the Tayna community rebuild their radio station," said Pierre Kakule Vwirasihikya, the Fossey Fund's co-coordinator for Congo programs and one of the founders of the Tayna Nature Reserve.
Photos by Dean Jacobs/DFGFI