A New Radio Drama Series Launched to Increase Resilience to Climate Change in Coastal Sierra Leone

A New Radio Drama Series Launched to Increase Resilience to Climate Change in Coastal Sierra Leone
September 9, 2019 9:47 am News

Perhaps it was on the news, in an online campaign, or in a textbook.

Whichever the case may be, it is unlikely you last learned about climate change while tuning in to your favorite radio drama. But residents of coastal communities in Sierra Leone can now experience this unique opportunity, thanks to the launch of an entertainment-education initiative called Watasay Ston by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WA BiCC) program.

Watasay Ston, a term in Krio language that literally means Unmovable Rock, is a radio drama and call-in show series designed to increase coastal resilience to climate change. Launched in Freetown on July 24th, 2019, the show is being produced in English, Krio, Mende, and Themne—the languages most widely spoken in target communities along the coast.

More than 70 partners and stakeholders attended the launch event, including:

  • Representatives from USAID, the United Nations Development Agency (UNDP), National Protected Areas Authority (NPAA), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA);
  • The Mayor of Bonthe;
  • Several NGOs;
  • Media;
  • Local Chiefs;

Animators and Facilitators from all target communities in the four coastal landscapes of Sierra Leone (Scarcies River Estuary, Sherbro River Estuary, Sierra Leone River Estuary, and Yawri Bay).

Watasay Ston is expected to complement technical activities being implemented in the coastal landscape. The radio program has created a new platform through which people can discuss issues around coastal resilience and sustainable natural resource management practices. The series will be broadcast from July 2019 to February 2020 on four radio stations across the landscape’s target communities.

Set in ‘Gbanga Town’, a fictitious rural coastal community, Watasay Ston centers on the effects of climate change and environmental degradation. Chief Gbanga, the well-educated leader who understands the causes of environmental degradation, decides to mitigate the impact of climate change and related human activities on his community. Along the way, he encounters resistance from some community members — a prominent fishmonger, a rice farmer, a fisherman and his wife, an oyster farmer, and a salt harvester all protest his endeavors. Chief Gbanga’s goal is to change the attitudes and practices of the people he leads to protect them from climate-related disasters.

Each 15-minute episode will be followed by a 45-minute call-in segment facilitated by a trained moderator and accompanied by an expert guest to answer questions and clarify the issues covered in the drama.

In order to reach people’s hearts and minds, we must speak to them in a way they can understand. By blending entertainment with education, it is our hope that Watasay Ston will contribute to safer and more resilient coastal communities in Sierra Leone, one episode at a time.

Please tune in to the following Sierra Leone radio stations each week to listen to the program:


James Blackie, USAID Sierra Leone Environmental Officer: “The launch of this radio drama is expected to bring about change in the landscape and add value to the technical work of reducing vulnerability across coastal Sierra Leone by increasing knowledge on resilience.”

Three men and one woman sitting at the high table.
James Blackie (middle) speaking at the launch event.


Bintu Monsaray of UNDP Sierra Leone: “I hope the launch of the radio drama today will set the pace for good coordination between partners working in the coastal landscape. UNDP is currently planning to fund an additional 24 episodes of Watasay Ston.”

A woman speaking.
Bintu Monsaray (right) addressing participants at the launch event.


Layemin Sandi, Mayor of Bonthe: “We have contributed to the creation of this radio drama. We also want to thank Premier Media for all the hard work they put into the production. We’re happy to see it finally take off.”

A man speaking.
Bonthe Mayor Layemin Sandi (right) speaking at the launch event.


Two men in a radio studio.
5 Bonthe Mayor (left), the first studio guest on Watasay Ston, on Africa Young Voices Radio, a station with over 3 million listeners.



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