Oshwe is a forest community of around 22 000 people living deep in the indigenous rainforests of the DRC. Ringed by thick foliage and rivers, it can only be reached by plane from Kinshasa.
There is no electricity in Oshwe, and no telephone lines either. However there is a small radio station, “Radio Television Bondeko”, that broadcasts daily between 18:00 and 22:00.
The radio broadcasts are run by volunteers who rely on a diesel-powered generator to keep the station running.
It was during one of our recent field trips to the community that we realised how important radio broadcasts are for daily life there. Every evening, families and groups of friends gather to follow the information and messages being spread by the station -- broadcasts are literally what hold this community together.
15 March 2012
Children in Logging Camp © Greenpeace / Jiro Ose
Without it people are completely cut off from the outside world, unaware of important developments, like decisions that get made about the forest they live in.
Sadly, as Oshwe is so isolated from the rest of the republic, the generator often runs out fuel, and daily broadcasts are forced to become weekly, or even monthly.
Realising the importance of the radio station, and the effect a dead generator can have on the community, we have started working with local people to provide the station with solar power.
Greenpeace will help to provide the solar equipment needed to make this possible, training local volunteers on how to run and maintain the solar panels.
Once completed, Radio Television Bondeko will be reliably powered by the sun, and its transmission range will also have been extended to a 100km radius around Oshwe.
It’ll mean that the community of Oshwe will no longer be held ransom to sporadic fuel deliveries, and people will be more empowered with a constant flow of information.