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Mozambique: Community theatre and radio drama for disaster management

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The district of Morrumbala, in the central province of Zambezia, and other regions of the Zambezi River Valley, including Manica, Sofala, Tete and Zambezia provinces are prone to severe flooding. Floods affected about 285,000 people in the region in January and February 2007, leaving 163,000 homeless and displacing many to resettlement centres. Severe floods again hit Mozambique in late 2007 and early 2008, causing the displacement of about 76,000 people, most of them from the Zambezi River Valley.

IOM has identified students as potential key players in disseminating much needed information about floods and disaster preparedness to these flood-affected communities. Last month, 24 students from 12 schools in the districts of Morrumbala Sede, Chire and Pinda in Morrumbala participated in a one-week training organised by IOM and its implementation partner, Oikos. A staff member from the Morrumbala community radio station and three teachers from different schools also took part in the training. Participants were taught how to produce community theatre and radio drama, how to respond to flood situations, and how to incorporate flood response messages in radio and drama scripts that their schools and communities can relate to. The students are expected to develop three or four radio plays each. Twelve of the best and most relevant plays will then be produced and broadcast to the local communities.

According to Ema Augusto, one of the trainers and a Grade 3 teacher at the Escola Completa school in the town of Pinda, many people are vulnerable to floods because they refuse to move from high-risk areas, often citing reasons such as ancestral links or the need for fertile farmland. She helps the students to prepare and produce drama scripts that deal with these and other challenges.

The training of Morrumbala students is part of IOM's contribution to the Joint United Nations Programme for Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Preparedness (DRR), which aims to incorporate disaster issues in schools through community theatre and radio drama.

Under the DRR project, IOM is also enhancing the capacity of four community radio stations in the Zambezi River Valley to educate the public about flood preparedness and response. In this regard, IOM has trained staff members of Morrumbala, Mutarara, Marromeu and Caia community radio stations, undertaken infrastructural rehabilitation, and contributed technical equipment such as computers, music and production software, generators, transmitters and antennas to strengthen their broadcast capacity.