For decades, radio broadcasters have acted as development knowledge brokers in rural communities throughout sub-Saharan Africa, delivering critical information about health, agriculture and nutrition to people who have little access to other forms of media. While recent trends in the development sector focus on new information and communication technologies, radio remains the dominant medium of communication for the majority of people in sub-Saharan Africa. The high cost of new technologies coupled with a lack of infrastructure in rural areas means that the vast majority of people are excluded from the digital revolution. Heather Gilberds will discuss the use of radio as a medium for citizen engagement and rural development in East Africa, focusing on its potential to facilitate participatory development processes and to raise the voices of people who are furthest away from spheres of power and influence.
Heather Gilberds is a communication for development expert, with 9 years of experience as a researcher, program manager, volunteer and consultant. She is a doctoral candidate and lecturer in the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Her research aims to understand the nature of knowledge translation in the context of information and communication technologies for development, and focuses on a critical exploration of knowledge production and communication processes as they relate to the adoption of innovations in Sub-Saharan Africa. She is also a Research Associate at Farm Radio International, where she is able to apply her expertise to help implement and evaluate programs that use radio along with mobile technologies to transfer and translate information about health, agriculture and nutrition to smallholder farmers and their families in East Africa. Heather has published in the areas of knowledge translation, media for advocacy, global mental health, media and social change and ICTs for development.