Zambia’s Rural Poor: Does Word-of-Mouth Trump Radio as the Best Way to Reach Them?Posted by: admin on Thu, 2010-10-14 15:21
Radio is often seen as one of the easiest and most effective means of reaching rural populations with development-oriented information. Especially in regards to supplying lower income populations with moderately complex content such as agricultural information. In Zambia, AudienceScapes found in its 2010 national survey that for the rural poor radio while possibly easier to exploit by development organizations may not be the most effective means of supplying development information.
AudienceScapes’ analysis of how agricultural information is spread through Zambia’s poor farming community found that radio is most often not the key source for farmers to get advice and information on agricultural topics (Table below). This is important for the rural poor as 87 percent in our survey reported farming as having contributed substantially to their household income. The ability of development organizations to communicate with the impoverished regarding this important topic is crucial.
For poor farmers it was speaking with family and friends that was the most often cited way poor rural farmers received information. Other key sources of information like farming organizations and cooperatives, along with other farmers themselves, are associated with established word-of-mouth networks made up of individuals who all have similar problems and concerns.
Radio remains a hugely important communication medium for reaching Zambia’s rural poor and its farming community. In fact, some 77 percent of poor farmers said it was a very or somewhat trustworthy source of agricultural information. However, word-of-mouth based sources such as those mentioned above rated even higher among poor farmers. In addition, there remains a significant part of the rural poor’s population that is without access to even a radio, especially among that always important group women.
Many of Zambia poorest households are headed by women and they are largely responsible for the household’s food production and many other income-generating activities. We find among the rural poor that there is a wide gap between men and women in the access to and use of radio. Fifty-seven percent of men, among the rural poor, are able to listen to the radio at least weekly, while only 38 percent of women have that privilege.
For more on how agricultural information is disseminated within Zambia society explore the AudienceScapes national survey through our Online Data Analysis Tool. The AudienceScapes online data tool allows users to select any question in an AudienceScapes survey, view frequencies, perform crosstabs and compare results between surveys. There is also basic graphic capability, and displayed results can be downloaded in Excel format. This tool is user friendly and does not require statistics skills.
Prepared by AudienceScapes Analyst David Montez
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