Rising Voices note: This post by Emmanuel Gira continues our series of blog posts written from the perspective of our grantee projects. This post comes from the Common Community – Radio Soap project taking place in Lira, Uganda.
Common Community is a community information sharing initiative, intended to raise awareness in the Lango region  of Uganda about electoral issues. This weekly radio soap opera, to be produced by the Theatre Technology House  (TTH), will address governance, citizen participation and social development.
Civic education is critical in the communities in Lango and other regions as the area is still grappling with development challenges. Poverty, low levels of education, ignorance, and other social problems prevail over interventions intended to deal with them.
Voter education drives have proven to be key in improving citizens’ awareness as well as stimulating active participation, especially among those traditionally disenfranchised groups such as uneducated women and youth.
The radio soap opera will be aired on a local FM Radio, targeting both rural people and disadvantaged urban dwellers. While it is essential for all election stakeholders to have access to voter education, the priority audience is rural, with the hope to increase participation in political processes relevant to their communities.
After a week of activities and meetings with stakeholders, Theatre Technology House has established the core research areas for the common community radio soap, a three-month radio drama campaign on citizen participation in electoral democracy. The central governing body of Theatre Technology House has created a research team – the initial stage of the implementation. Key research areas have also been ideintified. These include: local voters’ perceptions about electoral democracy, political leadership and what motivates them, how the voting wisely can be translated into social and economic development, and how democracy is relevant to a citizen in a less developed country.
Each of the four research areas has its primary target audience. The first audience is community members: citizens in rural (75%) and urban (25%) areas within the listenership range. The secondary audience will be aspiring politicians, currently serving politicians, and retired or otherwise excluded politicians. The tertiary audience will be political and development experts, and the fourth will be civil society organisations working in areas of governance, social development and the government electoral agencies.
The research has kicked off and will run for two weeks.