Freeplay Stories

Malawi Union of the Blind

With the help of Freeplay Energy, the Malawi Union of the Blind were able to distribute 12 Lifeline radios to 12 radio guardians who were members of MUB. These radio guardians formed radio clubs within their community, allowing others to share the radio, receiving access to information and education.


The large majority of people in Malawi live in isolation due to a lack of access to information and those who are blind are particularly affected. To address this problem, MUB and NABP have launched a pilot radio project in the Lower Shire region. Project Partners: Malawi Union of the Blind (MUB), Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted (NABP).


The Malawi Union of the Blind (MUB) is an advocate organisation for the rights and needs of blind and visually impaired people in Malawi. The organisation was formed in 1994 with assistance from the African Union of the Blind (AFUB) and has 19 active branches throughout the country and 3000 registered members.


The main problem this organisation is trying to address is the lack of sensitisation of the humanitarian situation in Malawi, where life expectancy is as low as 36.5 years, and the main per capita income is less than 1 US dollar per day. Economic development in Malawi is halted due to many factors, such as insufficient nutrition, poor access to medical services, low income, insufficient school education, a nation-wide 66% illiteracy rate, the spread of HIV/AIDS and the corruption in leadership. There is also a poor distribution of resources and information to the majority of the population, attributing to poor communication on all levels.


The large majority of people in Malawi live in isolation due to a lack of access to information. Despite the fact that there are 16 radio stations in the country, access to ownership of a radio, and a lack of steady income to buy batteries, is out of reach for the vast majority. In particularly, this affects people with a disability, especially those that are blind, which according to the World Health Organization (WHO) is 1.5% of the African population.


To address this problem, MUB together with the Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted (NABP) launched a pilot-radio-project in the Lower Shire region. With the help of Freeplay Energy, they were able to distribute 12 Lifeline radios to 12 radio guardians who were members of MUB. These radio guardians formed radio clubs within their community, allowing others to share the radio, receiving access to information and education.


After 6 months an impact assessment was carried out and found that each radio club had on average 15 people listening to different programs. Due to the access to information, these peoples' lives have radically transformed. They are now motivated to stimulate dialogue and are enhancing a new way of thinking. By having access to information, this positive change is on-going.


Introducing Freeplay Energy Lifeline radios in other districts of Malawi will guarantee access to information, especially for those in rural areas, and more so the blind and partially sighted people.