The Situation

Smart Villages Research Group is a nonprofit works to implement and demonstrate an integrated, community-led, bottom-up approach to rural development in East Africa and elsewhere. The organization was working with local partners on a grant-funded project to electrify and bring the Smart Villages methodology to four rural Maasai communities in northern Tanzania. As part of their work to understand the priorities of the communities where they work, they were made aware of the importance of ORS FM, the local community radio station that serves as the main source of reliable information for the Maasai community and others in the region.

The Roadblock

COVID-19 has made it much harder for ORS FM to operate as local NGOs reduced their spending. Smart Villages Research Group sought a grant to cover four months of diesel and maintenance expenses for the radio station, which would enable them to remain on air to provide key community public health information, get back on track with their original sustainability plan, and build up the reserves necessary to weather a similar situation with their own resources in the future.

Open Road's Response

With a charitable grant of $12,000 from ORA, the radio station was able to stay on-air, providing the local Maasai community with reliable information on COVID-19, including recognizing and treating symptoms, avoiding infection and spread, and other issues. The radio station also began experimenting with over-the-air educational programs for children while schools remain closed. They anticipate that the information they have provided by remaining on air will help save lives and prevent greater spread of the virus in the remote rural communities that ORS FM serves.

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