Oltoilo Le Maa FM is located in Suswa, a town in Narok County alongside the Nairobi–Narok main road, which also leads to the world famous Maasai Mara game reserves, about 200 Kilometres from the City of Nairobi. The station is one of four community radio stations operating under the wing of the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD), as part of its RANET-Kenya project. First initiated by the KMD in 2003, the station went on air in 2005. The radio broadcasts on 89.3 FM up to a radius of 25km to an estimated audience of 100,000 people using the local Maa language. Oltoilo Le Maa’s signal reaches farmers and pastoralists in an area described as “semi-arid”, where farmers struggle against frequent drought.
- Frequency: 89.3 FM
- Geographical reach: 25 KM Radius
- Language/s of broadcast: Maa language
- Broadcast duration: 14 hours
- Location: Suswa town, Narok County
- Estimated audience: 100,000 listeners
- Contact Person: John Kilelu Nkukuu, Station Manager
The aim of KMD in setting up the station was to conserve the environment and improve agriculture and livestock production by informing farmers about the weather and weather patterns well in advance. Oltoilo Le Maa broadcasts programmes aimed at helping farmers cope with livestock diseases such as foot and mouth disease.
The governing structure of the radio is comprised of a local committee drawn from different parts of the station’s footprint area, and representing a variety of groups and interests, for example, youth, women’s groups, people living with disability and religious groups. Board members are elected at an annual community meeting. KMD has played an important role in the training of the staff and continues to do so.
Social issues tackled by the radio station include discriminatory and dangerous cultural practices such as female genital mutilation and the “moran” practice in which boys discontinue schooling after circumcision to become herdsmen, resulting in high levels of illiteracy. In order to encourage community participation, the radio holds music and other competitions with youth groups, community organizations and others. Key slots are given to development programming, including human rights education, health, farming (especially livestock) and youth issues. Wherever possible, the station invites local experts to the studio to ensure information is of high quality. Local news is emphasized over national and international news. National and international news is sourced from other radio stations and the newspapers. The station has frequent interaction with pastoralists’ communities.