Stellenbosch University

Makerere University

Analysing radio content

In rural areas, where almost 90% of the population lives, radio serves as a vital platform for public discussion, information sharing and news. The United Nations initiative Pulse Lab Kampala, along with partners and with the support of the Embassy of Sweden in Uganda, is developing a prototype that makes it possible to conduct analysis of public discussions on the radio. The tool under development is unique and a worldwide innovation, involving the development of speech technology for three African languages (Ugandan English, Luganda and Acholi). For the first time people’s voices from public radio broadcasts are accessible to advance the Global Goals.

How does it work?

People's voices

There are currently over 250 FM radio stations across Uganda, most of them are community radio stations.These stations host popular phone-in shows where listeners call in and talk about for example violence against women, floods, malaria, adolescence pregnancy, teachers absenteeism, price fluctuations, or cholera.

Conversation detected

What people say on the radio is detected by Pulse Lab Kampala through small hardware deployed across the country.

Topics of interest

What people say on public discussions is transformed into text. The topics of interest related to the Global Goals are automatically found by the tool.

Real-time analysis of new data

A web interface shows in real-time what people say about a selected topic in different parts of the country (in radio clips or text).

How can this be used?

Approximately 7.5 million words are spoken on Ugandan radio stations every day (around nine times the number of words in the complete works of Shakespeare). The tool provides the ability to listen to just the topics of interest to monitor and achieve the Global Goals.

Example Messages

The map below shows examples of radio conversation from different locations in Uganda.
Use the previous and next buttons to navigate between quotes, and the play controls to listen.

Radio and the Global Goals

Deeper insight

Most people in rural areas are too poor to acquire land titles.

Analysis in different languages: Ugandan English, Luganda and Acholi

If a woman is going to give birth, and there is no health service or health worker, she is going to get fistula.

Eddwaliro lyaffe temuli yadde panadol kyokka nga n'abakyala bazaalira ku sseminti

Translation from Luganda: After 30 years, they are telling us they have built health centers. The same health centers have no medicine, not even the basic medicine like panadol. Women produce from the floor....

Obuyambi bwobwerere bujja kulekesa abasajja okulabirira bakyala babwe abembuto.

Translation from Luganda: Free healthcare for pregnant women will give people the wrong idea. Men will stop looking for money when their wives are about to give birth, as they will think the government will provide everything. They will have many children without the means to support them.

Different forms of information

Personal experiences and opinions:

The cause of early marriages most times is a lack of self esteem. Most girls don't know what to do after school.

At a school a boy told me ‘I don't know what I'm going to do. At home my father is arranging marriage for me’.

Comment from officials, spokespersons and public figures:

Domestic violence is not increasing. What is increasing is the level of intolerance. People are now becoming intolerant to violence, that's why they are reporting cases.

Local news reports, providing information on events:

Concern over high dropout rates among young girls in Otuke district.

Extracting statistics

Floods in slums are causing people to migrate.

The number of mentions of floods, storms and heavy rains were counted week by week. The trend corresponds to the heavy rains caused by El Niño, peaking in Kampala in mid December.

Number of flood-related discussions per week:

Analysing content from different regions

Example from Gulu:

An mere amito ngat mo ma pe okwano en aye otel wiwa.

Translation from Acholi: We want to get a person who has not gone to school to be our leader. They are humble, they have stopped in the lower classes so they don’t cheat the people. The ones who have gone to university only come and stamp on the people.

Wawinyo ni line mac ongolo wa ki kwene

Translation from Acholi: Our MP promised us power, but the electricity lines have passed somewhere else. We elected you as our MP to do such a job, so that you bring us power just as other regions are getting.

Translation from Acholi: Our LC3 chairman wants to be re-elected, but he's there drinking with the doctors... you go to the clinic and there are no doctors there, they are in the bar with the LC3.

owcalo grader kany ocoro wang yo acora obalo muranga pa dano

Translation from Acholi: The LC3 subcounty chief is bad. He sent a grader to grade the roads, and instead the graders destroyed our beans and our maize, and there was no road construction done. And the next time he comes, he will still get us here.
There is violence against female candidates not just from the police, but also from the public... they have been called bad wives, they've been called harlots.

Example of radio analysis for monitoring campaign implementation

Have you ever been asked to pay a bribe?

Data Privacy and Protection

To build the prototype, privacy issues are addressed through the privacy and data protection principles set out by UN Global Pulse. These principles are designed to ensure that the data collected is handled with the utmost protection of the interests of the individuals speaking.

A project involving analysis of people’s voices expressed on the radio naturally requires high levels of privacy considerations and protection. Even though radio is a public forum, Pulse Lab Kampala takes extra measures to protect the people behind the data and applies strict privacy principles to ensure that individuals are not exposed in a way that is to their disadvantage.

About Pulse Lab Kampala

Pulse Lab Kampala is the third lab of the UN Global Pulse network. Under the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator in Uganda, it supports the UN Country Team and the Government of Uganda to achieve the Global Goals for sustainable development. As a regional hub, it leverages data innovation, new sources of digital 'Big Data' and real-time analysis techniques.

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