Vanuatu Residents’ Ability To Access Information Surveyed

admin's picture

Vanuatu Residents’ Information Access Surveyed MDG-related issues apparently not high on most agendas

By Jonas Cullwick

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, May 15, 2013) – A study into how the people of Vanuatu access information has found that while hunger for news is evident across all provinces, those living in more remote areas generally express a greater need for information on more basic issues that affect their daily lives, such as education, environment and domestic violence, than their counterparts in urban centers. This finding is one of ten key findings of the Citizen Access to Information in Vanuatu study, conducted by InterMedia between October and December 2012.

The study was commissioned by Australian Broadcasting Corporation International Development (ABC ID) as part of Vois Blong Yumi program funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).

The Citizen Access to Information in Vanuatu study was designed to assess information needs and media communication habits of Vanuatu citizens, as well as their attitudes towards development issues, in order to help development, media and policy organizations better understand community needs and optimize their citizen engagement strategies in Vanuatu.

The study also found that MDG related issues generally do not rank high on the citizens’ information agenda, apart from those living in Torba province, who are considerably more likely to prioritize information on MDG related issues, particularly related to environment, domestic violence and governance.

The report on the key findings of the study shows that mobile phones are most widely owned communication device in Vanuatu, while radio emerged as the most used and most trusted mass medium. Household access to radio devices tends to be more limited in rural areas and more remote provinces, where poor or nonexistent signal presents one of the main barriers to radio listening.

"Men and older members of the household generally have the most control over the use of all media devices in the household. Conversely, women and younger members of the household generally have the least say in how and when these media are used and what is listened to or watched," the report continues.

Communal use of radio, television and sharing of newspapers is important particularly in rural areas, where home access to media tends to be limited.

The study found that word of mouth is an important source of information particularly for those living in rural areas where media access is scarce. Local community opinion leaders, in particular, play a crucial role as information brokers for many of the issues, and are also considered the most trusted sources of information, ahead of all traditional media.

"Overall, household access to media is heavily influenced by the geographic diversity of Vanuatu. While household access to different media in the urban areas tends to be relatively diverse, citizens living in more remote areas often have access to only one media device, and also rely heavily on word of mouth," the report of the study’s findings continues.

The study found too that news, music and talkback shows are the most popular radio programming styles in Vanuatu. News is valued by all age groups with the exception of the youngest audience (15-24 year-olds), who put more emphasis on music.

Talkback shows have a wide appeal across all age groups, but are somewhat more popular in urban areas and among the better educated radio listeners.

"Radio Vanuatu and Capitol FM are the most listened to radio stations in Vanuatu, each reaching about a third of all adults on a weekly basis. However, they both seem to have different strengths – Radio Vanuatu is valued mainly as a source of accurate, detailed, up-to-date news and information, while Capitol FM’s appeal lies in its music and provision of "lighter", entertaining content," the study found.

96 BuzzFM, the newest radio station in the country, was launched only on October 12, 2012.

Finally, the Citizen Access to Information in Vanuatu study found that the Australian government is the most well-known foreign entity working in Vanuatu, and generally enjoys positive image among Vanuatu citizens, as does AusAID.

Due to significant logistical constraints associated with the geological diversity of Vanuatu, a decision was made to conduct the survey in only one island in each of the six provinces. These islands were chosen primarily due to their comparatively large population size accounting for 75% of the population of Vanuatu, accessibility by airplane and availability of transportation.

The survey was conducted immediately after the 2012 general elections in Vanuatu, which the writers of the report say may have implications for the findings on the citizens’ prioritization of political issues and their knowledge of and attitudes toward civic participation discussed in the report.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment