Radio Okapi is the radio of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO). It began its programming in February 2002. In partnership with the United Nations, Fondation Hirondelle contributed to its creation, development of its programs, and to the training of its teams from 2002 to 2014. This was a fruitful partnership which made it possible to create one of the largest radio stations in French-speaking Africa, the radio most listened to in the DRC for 15 years.
The relationship between the United Nations and Fondation Hirondelle allowed the creation and development of Radio Okapi. In 2000, a few months after the creation of MONUC (United Nations Mission in the DRC, which became MONUSCO in 2010), officials of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) contacted Fondation Hirondelle in New York asking us to participate in the design and implementation of MONUC’s radio. Following this request, Fondation Hirondelle presented the basic concept for the radio to the United Nations in 2001, and it was accepted by the DPKO. Radio Okapi is networked across the DRC (a country as large as Western Europe), with its headquarters in Kinshasa and regional studios in the provinces. Radio Okapi produces news bulletins every morning, noon, and evening in 5 languages, making it a radio that speaks to the entire Congolese population. The teams and the project were co-managed by Fondation Hirondelle and the United Nations from Radio Okapi’s creation in February 2002 until 2014.
Fondation Hirondelle ensured the training of journalists and radio presenters, the development of charters (for radio, social networks, coverage of elections, etc.), defining the concept of each program, designing and updating the program schedule and the organization of teams. Direction of the radio, editorial management of news and programs was ensured until 2008 by staff from Fondation Hirondelle under the supervision of the MONUC Director of Public Information. A transfer of responsibilities was then organized to the national staff of Radio Okapi, who have since assumed responsibility for editorial and program management.
Fondation Hirondelle also developed Radio Okapi’s external relations and network outside the UN sphere, in particular by setting up a network of radio partners and correspondents in all regions. This has greatly helped to boost the reputation and broadcasting of the radio in cities and zones not covered by the MONUSCO FM transmitters. Fondation Hirondelle has carried out and commissioned numerous surveys to measure the impact of Radio Okapi, and to suggest ways of developing and sustaining the radio for the future. From 2002 to 2014, Fondation Hirondelle contributed many resources to the operation and development of the radio: human resources, equipment and vehicles.
The partnership between the United Nations and Fondation Hirondelle for radio co-management ended in 2014. Radio Okapi has been continuing since, and broadcasts under the MONUSCO mandate.