World Service 'lifeline' broadcasts to Horn of Africa

By agency reporter
September 2, 2011

The BBC World Service has launched special radio broadcasts to serve the Somali-speaking population affected by famine and drought in the Horn of Africa. The purpose of the daily 15-minute radio programmes by BBC Somali is to help people to make informed decisions that may help them to survive the famine.

At 14.15 local time (11.15 GMT) every day, Gurmad (Rescue) on BBC Somali delivers special news bulletins, practical information and expert advice for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). It will also reach those who have stayed in their home towns and villages.

The editor of BBC Somali, Yusuf Garaad Omar, comments: "We have been covering the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa since it started to unfold, and our reporters were overwhelmed with questions and suggestions on relief aid – or lack of it. So we decided to devote a special programme to address these issues, and as a majority of those affected are Somali-speakers, it was also obvious that BBC Somali is the right channel to reach these people. We hope that timely, up-to-date information, provided by experts, about issues these people are facing every day, will help them survive this crisis. We will do our best to maintain the supply of such knowledge to all those who are in need of it."

Particularly aimed at the refugees in Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Yemen, as well as IDPs in Mogadishu and other locations in Somalia, the lifeline broadcasts bring a wealth of information on how to get access to food aid and health services, on safety on the roads, advice on legal matters, nutrition, water and sanitation.

News bulletins with the latest on the relief efforts and humanitarian situation are followed by interviews and reports by the BBC's correspondents across the region. Along with giving listeners a platform to share their experiences, a special slot in the programme channels their questions to aid workers, doctors and authorities.

Gurmad also informs the Somali diaspora, who are willing to contribute to the international relief effort, about the type of need required as well as on where and how the assistance is distributed.

Available on shortwave and BBC FM relays across the Horn of Africa, Gurmad is also re-broadcast by the BBC's partner radio stations: Kenya's Star FM, whose network covers Dadaab refugee camp and Mogadishu; Shabelle FM in Mogadishu, Somalia; and the private Somali network, SBC. Gurmad also features on a special index on, in text and audio.


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