Rural Media Network – Sharing Knowledge, Changing Behaviours

RUMNET Today

 RUMNET is now widely known and respected within the northern regions of Ghana, due largely to the way it has consistently and reliably worked with others to produce high quality information on issues of concern to its stakeholders. RUMNET is perceived as a media organization with a difference – one that takes sides on issues of concern to poor and marginalized people in rural areas, while also maintaining the sense of neutrality so vital in an area experiencing conflict.  RUMNET’s professionalism has helped it to progress as an organization over the last three years to the point where it is poised to move into a new scale of operation involving new possibilities and challenges.Celia Dogbe, Consultant, Participatory Development Associates, Ghana.

 WHO WE ARE

The Rural Media Network (RUMNET) is a non-profit, multi-media, social justice advocacy organisation based in Tamale, in the Northern Region of Ghana.

RUMNET was founded in 1996 to respond to communities’ desire for self-determination, equity, social justice and participation.

RUMNET was set up by a group of journalists, who in the course of their assignments in the Northern Region, were touched by the ignorance, disease and poverty that stared them in the face wherever they went. Matters, for these journalists, got to a head when an ethnic conflict erupted in the Northern Region in 1994.

The conflict brought to the fore, the combined effects of ignorance, lack of information and poverty. Disempowerment, marginalisation, discrimination, exclusion and voicelessness were visible and pervasive in most communities. These are some of the causes as well as results of poverty, conflict and suffering.

At that time, the mainstream media was not, and is still not, providing communities, the poor and the marginalized, with information that could transform their lives; neither did it provide space to communities to communicate their plight to decision-makers. Besides, communities were unable- as now -to participate fully in decision-making because of weak mechanisms in the interface with local government.

RUMNET believes that unless people are able to influence decisions that directly affect their lives, they will remain excluded from mainstream development.

RUMNET, therefore, deemed it imperative to support communities in deepening their understanding of the root causes of under-development and identifying their own solutions to overcome them, through participatory development communication and social change.

OUR VISION

RUMNET’s vision is: a peaceful society in which resources are equitably allocated, citizens are enlightened, self-sufficient and play an active role in the development activities of Ghana.

 OUR MISSION                                                

RUMNET works with committed individuals and organisations to enable rural communities, the poor and the vulnerable in Northern Ghana, acquire information and knowledge to improve their lives and advocate for equity and good governance, through participatory development communication.

OUR GOAL

To create well-informed and healthy rural communities that are self-reliant, claim their rights and participate actively in decisions that affect their well-being.

 OUR STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES

 Increase information flow, education and dialogue on issues affecting rural communities, the poor and vulnerable to enable them improve their livelihoods and secure their lives.

  1. Increase sustainable environmental and natural resource management practices within communities in the northern savannah zone, in order to enhance their livelihoods and food security prospects.
  2. Enhance the ability of rural communities to participate in local governance and demand accountability.
  3. Improve social harmony and peaceful coexistence among communities in Northern Ghana.

MAIN CONSTITUENTS

RUMNET works predominantly but not exclusively with poor, marginalized and vulnerable people in rural and urban communities in the three regions of northern Ghana. RUMNET gives particular attention to:

  1. Women
  2. Children
  3. The physically challenged
  4. Other Marginalised Groups

 

WHAT WE DO

    1. Researching and providing rural communities with information and education on issues relevant to their development.
    2. Gathering information and data from rural communities on their needs, problems and issues of policy implementation for the attention of government and policy makers.
    3. Enhancing the ability of poor rural communities to engage policy makers to make and implement pro-poor policies.
    4. Providing rural communities direct access to media and communication opportunities to inform themselves and promote their views and perspectives.
    5. Providing early warning of situations that might lead to conflict and alert political leaders and attentive publics to opportunities for understanding issues.
    6. Stimulating the use of mechanisms for conflict resolution, such as negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and providing information that will facilitate these processes.
    7. Working with development partners (e.g. DA’s MPs, NGOs) to organise events and processes to promote dialogue on development issues, through existing communication channels.
    8. Offering consultancy services in media and communications

WHAT WE HAVE ACHIEVED

Some of our modest achievements are:

 The ADVOCATE– a monthly development-oriented newspaper that brought to the fore and notice of policy and decision-makers, the plight and potentials of deprived communities, the poor, marginalized and vulnerable and advocated for change in their interest. Through The ADVOCATE, our flagship, RUMNET has been able to advocate for the rights of the poor and marginalised and obtained justice for them in land cases, encouraged women to participate in elections, successfully involved in the demand for equity in the allocation of funds from the central government to district assemblies in northern Ghana and the creation of additional District Assemblies in the Northern Region.

  • Radio AMANA- a weekly radio magazine programme targeted at non-literate communities in particular and the public generally. It educated and informed communities and enabled them to freely express their views, opinions and desires for the attention and action of the authorities. It discussed issues on education, health, agriculture, rural enterprise, environment, governance, peace and gender equity. Programmes were produced in RUMNET’s cutting edge mini radio production studio.
  • CAMPAIGN AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE- Worked with other development and civil society organizations to mobilize communities against domestic violence. It created awareness of domestic violence and carried out a behaviour change communication programme that dissuaded men and women from using violence to resolve their differences. This led to the reduction of cases reported to the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit of the Ghana Police Service in the Tamale Metropolis.
  • CITIZENS ENGAGEMENT IN SOCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY- Enabled 20 communities in the Savelugu-Nanton District to acquire the confidence to hold duty bearers and government service providers accountable and demand action on community concerns, rights and entitlements. “We now know that we have the right to participate in taking decisions on issues that affect our communities so far as government is concerned. We thought once a project was a government one, we had no say in it,” was the refrain from several communities after RUMNET’s social accountability project. The communities engaged in the monitoring and evaluation of the provision of services and implementation of programmes and policies concerning quality education and the national health insurance scheme at the District level.
  • CAPACITY BUILDING OF ASSEMBLY MEMBERS: We have, through workshops, imparted media engagement, lobbying, public speaking and community mobilisation skills to 54 Assembly members of the Savelugu-Nanton District. The training enabled them to contribute effectively at assembly meetings and present the demands of their electorates appropriately. RUMNET develop a manual on Community Mobilisation for Assembly members. “Indeed until RUMNET came along with this training, most of us attended meetings without really being able to make our representations quite well. But now we consult our electorates, obtain their views and articulate our cases effectively at meetings and through lobbying.”– Assembly member
  • COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION IN LOCAL GOVERNANCE- Complemented the local government systems at the district and sub-district levels with innovative interventions. It promoted citizens’ rights to participate in decisions that affect their lives at the local government level, and enabled local government officials open up to the citizens more frequently.
  • ENERGY CONSERVATION CAMPAIGN: RUMNET successfully carried out a behaviour change communication campaign on energy conservation in 60 communities in the Upper West, Upper East and Northern Regions in 2002 for the Traditional Energy Unit (TEU) of the Savannah Resources Management Programme (SRMP). The campaign influenced women to use energy-conserving stoves and cooking methods that reduced the use of wood fuel to save the forests.
  • CAMPAIGN ON BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION: RUMNET carried out another behaviour change communication campaign on biodiversity conservation in 75 communities in the Upper West, Upper East and Northern regions in 2007 for the Savannah Biodiversity Conservation Project (NSBCP). RUMNET trained 12 community-based­­-organisations to deliver the messages in the targeted communities.
  • CAPACITY BUILDING OF MEDIA PERSONNEL: Since 2000, RUMNET has organized capacity building workshops/training for media personnel in the three Northern Regions on the following themes:
  • Civic Journalism and Reporting: Key in Promoting Participation in Governance and Development.
  • The News Media Working With Conflict in Northern Ghana.
  • PEACE BUILDING: RUMNET has, in no small measure, contributed to peace building and conflict transformation in northern Ghana. The organisation on its own gathered the information that led to the formation of the Bawku Peace Initiative (BPI), which broaches harmonious coexistence between the Mamprusis and Kusasis in Bawku in the Upper East Region. RUMNET was also instrumental in the formation of the Ghana Network for Peace Building (GHANEP), a network of NGOs working for peace in Ghana. RUMNET’s forte in peace building is early warning, advocacy, and media training.

RUMNET has, over the years organised eight training workshops for journalists in northern Ghana in:

  • Using Radio to Promote Political Tolerance and Peace building in the Northern Region.
  • The Role of the Media in Ensuring a Free, Fair and Peaceful Election 2008
  • The Role of the Media in Mobilizing Action for Development.

FUNDING

The projects were funded by a core of donors that shared RUMNET’s vision and mission. These were:

  • African Initiatives, Britain
  • Action Aid, Ghana
  • Ibis, West Africa
  • Oxfam, Ghana
  • Institute for Policy Alternatives
  • UNDP

 WHERE WE ARE GOING

Having reviewed our strategic plan, in the next three years we intend to implement the following programmes: 

  1. The ADVOCATE: Media Advocacy and Community Action: A Development-oriented Newspaper cum Radio/TV news features project that shapes public opinion, mobilizes community activists, and influences decision makers to formulate favourable policies and change those that are not in the interest of the people. It will promote development issues, track the targets of policy objectives, shift priorities, highlight areas of concern to civil society and bring people’s perspective into government.
  2. Studio AMANA: Communication For Development And Social Change: A multi-media production studio providing rural communities access to information and knowledge on key issues of concern to their wellbeing. It will address issues on education, health, agriculture, rural enterprise, environment, governance, peace and gender equity, secure livelihoods and reproductive health rights.
  3. LIFE: Living in a Finite Environment: An Environmental Education and Communication programme that makes communities in the Northern Savannah Zone aware of the limits of the environment and empowers them to protect, conserve and manage their natural resources sustainably.
  4. VOICE and ACCOUNTABILITY: A social accountability programme that empowers rural communities to demand accountability from duty bearers; makes service providers responsive and decision-makers more informed – all in pursuit of delivering efficient public services. It entails civic education, participatory local governance and social accountability.
  5. QUEST for PEACE: Building Peace through the Media: It will use media strategies to carry out conflict prevention and peace building initiatives and influence communities to manage conflict through dialogue and non- violence means.

RUMNET welcomes partnerships, donors and funders that share its mission in the implementation of the foregoing programmes.

 MANAGEMENT 

RUMNET is governed by a five-member board of directors that oversees and safeguards the organization’s mission, objectives, integrity and policies.

It is managed by professional communicators with print and broadcasting background. It has four permanent staff. RUMNET is a member of the Northern Ghana Network for Development and the Inter-NGO Consortium.

RUMNET occupies a unique position in the development community in Northern Ghana, as the only development communication and media NGO in the area.

CONTACTS

Abdallah Kassim: 024-4218898

Alhassan Imoru: 024-4218701

RUMNET, Agric Ridge, P.O. Box 863, Tamale.Tel: 071-24177

Fax: 071-23907

Email: rumnet@africaonline.com.gh

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