Only 25% of surveyed women understand Hausa, yet communications mechanisms rely on the language.
DANBURY, Conn., USA – 24 July, 2019. In a recent report, TWB recommends that humanitarian responders use multilingual audio communication in northeast Nigeria. Audio communication is essential for humanitarians and internally displaced people to share information. But the research reveals that right now it is not being used to its full potential, and women, in particular, are missing out.
Overreliance on a patchy FM signal and a shortage of programming in the languages of conflict-affected people are largely to blame. Information and communication tools in sites hosting displaced people are also predominantly designed for literate Hausa speakers.
Humanitarians should find out more about the languages, communication preferences, and radio access of their intended audiences. That would enable them to tailor audio communication to be more effective and efficient.
Other key findings include:
- Humanitarian FM broadcasts do not reach Monguno, a town hosting internally displaced people just over 100 kilometers from the state capital. Virtually the only radio residents hear is in Hausa and English, although most speak Kanuri or Shuwa Arabic.
- Only 45 percent of Kanuri and Shuwa Arabic speakers surveyed in Monguno understand audio messages in simple Hausa. In contrast, 98 percent understand audio messages in their mother tongue.
- Radio remains the preferred format of communication for many internally displaced people in Monguno. For example, 66 percent prefer radio to receive fire safety information.
There are key measures humanitarians can take to address these issues. Localized broadcasts over portable loudspeakers in the languages spoken at a given site can replace conventional radio where the signal is weak. Expanding programming in Kanuri and other relevant languages can significantly expand the reach of communication. Audio feedback mechanisms such as voice recorders and radio call-in shows help less literate individuals hold humanitarians accountable.
The report builds on previous TWB research that found audio is the best-understood communication method among internally displaced people in northeast Nigeria. The latest research, gathered from October 2018 to January 2019, makes sense of a complex audio landscape in Borno State.
This assessment was supported by EU humanitarian aid (ECHO) through the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN migration agency.
About Translators without Borders
Translators without Borders (TWB) envisions a world where knowledge knows no language barriers. The US-based non-profit provides people access to vital knowledge in their language by connecting non-profit organizations with a community of language professionals, building local language solutions and raising awareness of the power of language. Originally founded in 1993 in France (as Traducteurs sans Frontières), TWB translates millions of words of lifesaving and life-changing information a year.
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