Faith Wafula, Docusound Student

DOCUSOUND: production of audio-documentaries oriented on social change

With the support of the ACPCultures+ Programme, a consortium of NGOs created a network of radio documentary makers, many of them disabled or handicapped.


The DOCUSOUND’s aim is to build a socially inclusive network of radio documentary makers oriented towards social change. Over two years, the action trained more than 30 professionals to set up a cross-media platform for factual content production and consumption that raises social awareness and engenders long-lasting social change. Fifty per cent of those trained were visually impaired and disabled people.

“DOCUSOUND is a weapon of mass-awareness construction” declared Federico Gallas, the project manager. “We produce and distribute audio-documentaries, we run a media literacy programme and we teach: in a nutshell we foster the culture of oral storytelling in all shapes and forms and we advocate for all minorities to be involved in the production and exchange of culture and information”.

In a world dominated by video, train professionals in audio techniques can seem provocative. “Audio is one of the best ways to reach the audience in African countries”, explains Federico. “Radio is everywhere, easier and intuitive to handle technically and cheaper”.

The philosophy of the project is to work with disabled people and on social themes. Disabled people can testimony their handicap and raise awareness in the society and among the local population.


In a nutshell, the project achieved two major goals:

1) A network of professionals has been created, that work in teams and deliver radio content, regardless of the physical abilities of the members;

2) 26 radio documentaries have been produced and 15 of them (7 Senegalese, 8 Kenyan) have beenaired on 6 community radios (some have an audience of over 1 million people) and are on line (;

Although the financial contribution of the European Union ended in 2014, the project has strong sustainable elements. Organisations working with people with disabilities in Cameroun, Mali, Benin officially notified to the beneficiary the intention to develop the network in their respective countries. Permanent relationships with local radios and media-based organisations of people living with disabilities have been built, favouring a stronger awareness among the population.

The institutions (in particular the CBOs and the Community radios) have greatly benefited from the improvementof the “docusounder” technical skills. The trainees acquired the technical and creative skills to be producing factual radio content. This is particularly important for trainees living with a disability because they acquired the skills to have an impact on the media and shift the message conveyed by the mainstream media about disability=inability. Many trainees (regardless of being affected by a disability or not) are currently working on issues like: social justice, human rights, health access, fair development.

Anotheroutcomeof the project is the shifting the focus of the training from professionalism to activism in order to achieve a long-term social impact. Most of the trainees had no experience with sound recording equipment (even if some of them had some radio experience as they host radio shows on local radios) and the training allowed them to get familiar with the equipment and most of all to be able to build a network of peers able to help them out in the future for their own awareness campaigns.

Many activists (be them living with a disability or not) often lack a training in communication and media and the impact of their actions is greatly affected; with the DOCUSOUND training the trainees/activists have acquired the skills and the tools to push their goals of changing people's mentalities and behaviour.

Duringthe implementation of the project a new law about disabled people’s rights was signed in Senegal.Althoughit is not directly connected to the project’s activities, this is another demonstration that the project’s idea is going in the right direction at the right time.


James Kibaki is a young trainee living in Kenya. James is a person with albinism. “DOCUSOUND has been an exciting period in my life”, explains James. “I have a passion to tell the stories of persons with disabilities and marginalized in the society but didn’t have a platform. Through the training I’m more confident, on how to structure a story flow and proper writing of proposal”.

James told the story of Mary, a 47 year old widow with 4 children under her care.  Currently she works as a casual labourer as gate keeper, despite her poor eyesight and many hours in the sun without sun-block lotion. Daily she encounters many challenges as some people abuse and threatens her because of her skin colour and poor eyesight. When she reports to the police, they start making fun of her instead of helping her. Despite all these challenges Mary has to put bread on the table at the end of the day and pay rent at the end of the month.

Proper eye care and proper diagnosis and prescription from an ophthalmologist and sun-block lotion could ease the difficulties Mary has to face on a daily basis. “Mary’s challenges are faced by most persons with albinism and through this documentary I hope to change the negative attitude of the society towards persons with albinism and provoke the policy makers to be thoughtful of persons with albinism while planning and making laws and policies”, declared James Kibaki.

Another example on the use of audio-documentaries to raise awareness on challenged people is given by Faith Wafula (photo), a young Nigerian journalist. “My experience with DOCUSOUND has been amazing”, she declared. “I have always had a passion for women and women’s empowerment. I believe everyone has a story and through DOCUSOUND, I can now give vulnerable women a chance for their voice to be heard. I have met great people and learnt to interact with persons with disabilities, every day is a lesson. A lesson in teamwork, patience, resilience and hope”.

Faith is telling the story of street mothers. “Some view them as a menace to society, look at them with disgust”, explains Faith. “Others view them with pity, but the majority of us are however indifferent. My story is about two such women. Shiro and Elizabeth speak to me about their journey as young mothers living in the streets, painting a grim picture of the abuse they and their children have faced and continue to face in the streets they call home. Shiro talks about the gang rape she had to endure as a young girl that resulted in her getting pregnant. Her strength and resilience resonates through her words as she speaks about forgiveness and her hope for the future”, explains further Fatih. “Elizabeth talks about how she had to run away to the streets after defending herself from her step father who wanted to make a ‘wife’ out of her. I chose to do a documentary on street mothers because mothers symbolize continuity of life, continuity of generations. I realized that the street is the source of an entire generation and few are aware of it. The mothers of the street are faced with unimaginable hardships and untold abuse and they face this while trying to protect little ones that look up to them, little ones they had when they were barely old enough to have children”.

When asked what DOCUSOUND has brought to her, she answers quite frankly: “I aim to create awareness and change public perception on the issue of street mothers, and as a result, get the society at large to play a role, however small it is, at helping these women. That is the only way the cycle of street life can be broken. By helping the mothers, we help the child. With DOCUSOUND I was able to learn how to make a professional documentary and to distribute widely on the Net”.

Mercy Alomba from Kenya summarises her experience highlighting the importance of diversified opinions: “Thanks for your efforts in ensuring we become the voice of the voiceless in this area, by equipping us with the necessary knowledge to tell about the opportunities, challenges and hopes that the various characters each one of us chose can have on the T.A.”

Another Kenyan documentarist, Jonathan Njoroge, commented the impact of the project on his life: “From just a mere hobby, DOCUSOUND has made radio documentary journalism a reality for me. It was an honour being chosen for the DOCUSOUND training […]. DOCUSOUND has inspired me to becoming and environmentalfreelance journalist.

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September 24, 2015
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