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The Development Broadcasting Unit (DBU) a semi-autonomous development arm for Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC). The DBU was established in 1999 and has vast experience in development communication.

The Unit boasts of a team of qualified development communication experts. DBU’s major role is to contribute to the national development through development broadcasting. The unit engages in development programming with vast experience in development communication including behaviour change communication. DBU was established in 1999 with funding from the British Department for International Development (DFID). DBU uses participatory communication approaches to ensure national dialogue around development issues, including issues of HIV and AIDS.

DBU uses a participatory communication technique – Development Through Radio (DTR). Through this approach, marginalised communities are given access to radio where they bring out issues affecting their livelihoods and are linked to service providers for action oriented dialogue within the community. The issues raised are mainly centred on the realization or protection of their birth rights. DBU believes that human rights can best be achieved by reducing the gap (due to power relations) between the communities and those in service delivery through regular contact and dialogue at all levels of the community.

In the DBU approach, communities are mobilized around a Radio Listening Club (RLC) which is at the centre of the development activities. The RLCs are trained in radio program production, human rights, negotiating skills, local government structures and other development related issues. These clubs are the ones that produce radio programs aired on MBC radio channels.



DBU follows a five-step methodology in which a community (through RLC members) first identifies the problem, then develops a village voice which is followed by the dialogue, then programme broadcast and finally, there is a reflection on programme that has been broadcast as explained below:

Problem identification: The RLC’s identify community issues through community mapping in which different demographic groups talk out the most pertinent issues affecting them. After generating these issues from different groups, the club then calls for a general meeting where all the groups meet and prioritizes issues through consensus.

Development of a village voice: The prioritized issue is developed into a “village voice” which is a community voice to a service provider on their problem. In the village voice, the community narrates their problem background and shows how it is affecting their livelihoods and infringing their rights. The community also says what they have done to deal with their problem and who they think can assist them from the point they have reached and all this is recorded. The community identifies a possible service provider to whom they send their recorded village voice and invites the service provider for a dialogue on the issue.


Dialogue: The community discusses their problem with the service provider. They agree on a plan of action.

Program broadcast: The village voice together with the dialogue is sent to DBU for studio production. The programme is broadcast at a time agreed by the community members so that they can listen to it. The members listen to the programmes and discuss the lessons drawn from each programme.

Reflection programme broadcast: This model allows for a reflection programme whereby a team of experts and policy makers discuss the key issues from community-generated programme in a panel discussion. This helps to influence policy change.


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