The 'Our Town, Our Future' Project used radio drama, along with extensive outreach work, to strengthen democratisation, good governance, and the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Working with the BBC World Service Trust, the CDRSEE implemented the project via local broadcasters. The project raised awareness of poor governance issues, and encouraged communities to stand up for their individual needs and rights. The radio broadcasts were accompanied by successful outreach work including opinion polls, conferences, and newspapers.
Radio Drama in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Our Town, Our Future Project used radio drama, along with extensive outreach work, to strengthen democratisation, good governance, and the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The BBC World Service Trust conducted this project from 2004 to 2006 in partnership with a regional NGO, the Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe.
This project aimed to change the attitudes of staff in municipal authorities by raising awareness of poor governance issues and by highlighting best practice and malpractice through popular radio drama. The outreach work encouraged local communities to stand up for their individual, citizens' rights and to present their own needs more effectively.
A radio drama series, set in a Bosnian local authority, attracted audiences of 250,000 municipal workers, their families, local politicians and citizens on all sides of the ethnic divides. The series raised awareness of the weaknesses of municipal authorities. The project encouraged community involvement in the development of the radio series with local consultative testing and focus groups.
Bosnia and Herzegovina was a country in a state of recovery after a three-and-a-half year war from 1992 to 1995.
The country consists of two entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) and the Republika Srpska (RS). Each entity has its own government. Overarching these entities is a central government and a rotating presidency.
Local government in the FBiH is divided into 10 cantons, which are further subdivided into 81 municipalities. The RS is subdivided into 63 administrative municipalities. There is no cantonal structure in RS, which was why this project targeted municipal authorities. This fragmentation of power and complexity of structure offered fertile ground not only for inefficiency but also for widespread corruption.
Since 1992 the BBC World Service Trust has developed similar educational drama series in Albania, Romania, Russia and Afghanistan. In this project up to 23 radio stations all over BiH broadcast the series. Each station produced its own radio phone-in to debate the issues raised in the drama series.
Our Town, Our Future storylines also formed the cornerstone of a broad range of outreach work, organised by the Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe . The outreach work aimed to improve the quality of 144 municipal authorities and included 3 opinion polls. Three conferences for municipal workers further informed low- and middle-ranking municipal workers, usually untrained political appointees, of best practice and malpractice.
Additionally, extensive public relations work, was carried out, which included a regular newsletter. A five-day study-tour to Northern Ireland allowed Bosnian media managers and drama professionals to share experiences with another country that was equally politically complex with deep religious tensions.
The project utilised local talent and developed local partnerships with broadcasters. The soap opera was produced using Bosnian directors, writers and actors. The project was made possible by a grant of 835,142 Euro from the European Commission under “The European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights: Support for Democratisation, Good Governance and the Rule of Law”.
The project was co-financed by the Charles Mott foundation.
This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the BBCWST and the CDRSEE and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.