First launched in March 2010, Bravos do Zambeze (‘Zambezi Braves’) is a multi-faceted initiative that combined a 26-episode radio drama produced in 2 languages with training for community radio journalists, in order to convey information around disaster risk reduction and floods, as well as build local capacity for reporting on disasters and climate change.
They were getting ready for the big game. He sounded the warning; they thought he was joking. And when it happened, they risked losing it all! As the waters rise, so do the treachery, conflicts and dangers.
The drama was produced for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), as part of the UN Delivering as One, Joint Programme on Disaster Risk Reduction Project. Given the success of “Bravos do Zambeze” CMFD and IOM are re-released an adapted and translated version of the drama for the Limpopo Valley.
The story focuses on a village soccer team captain, Jose, and his girlfriend Suzanne. In season one, the village is hit by a terrible flood that finds the community completely unprepared. Jose and his team must try to get the villagers to safety. The season deals with the immediate aftermath of flooding, issues around displacement, what can happen if people are not prepared, and the importance of sticking together as a community. Season two of Bravos deals mainly with the process of rebuilding, as well as the importance of adapting to the reality of increasingly frequent and severe weather patterns. The aim in this season is to communicate specific, useful information about longer-term disaster management and planning, including farming and building techniques that are more disaster-resistant, and preparing an evacuation plan for future emergencies.
The drama, which includes a lively, original theme song, was produced in Portuguese and Sena, the local language most prevalent in the target area – the Zambezi floodplain. However, the drama was distributed to radio stations across the country, focusing on areas prone to flooding. The theme song for the drama was co-written by local Mozambican parliamentarian and musician Isaú Meneses, and uses a combination of carefully written lyrics and catchy beats to take the messages further.
Click here for a detailed character and storyline outline.
What's been said:
"The characters do know how to get people’s attention and that’s very important when you want [to give] advice or alert someone.” "The old man Domingo, he reminded me of my dad who also suffered in a flood situation. He didn’t want to listen in the beginning."
"They would like [this drama] because that’s exactly what happens when floods occur."
"…people who hear the story can learn something, and will know how to help those who are in danger."
In preparation for the project, CMFD conducted a series of case studies among residents of Ndambuenda, a resettlement neighbourhood in Zambezia Province, who were forced to leave their home villages because of flooding. Respondents were asked to recount what happened to them during the flood, how they were affected, what they were able to salvage, how they feel now, and what, if anything, they would do differently next time. Most respondents reported losing everything to the flood. Many noted that there was a lack of solidarity or coordination between villagers, and that people were often out for themselves. Some also reported not taking the flood seriously at first and waiting too long to leave their homes. These case studies helped inform and shape the key themes in the drama.
In between production of season one and season two, CMFD organised and conducted a five-day workshop with six community radio stations within the Zambezi River region. The workshop included a number of presentations from organisations working on disaster risk reduction in the area, as well as practical training on creating radio features. Journalists were able to interview presenters, make important contacts for future reporting. They were also given copies of Bravos do Zambeze – along with a guide booklet to help them develop call-in shows, talk shows and reports around the drama – to play on their stations.
ResponseFeedback from a focus group discussion conducted on the drama, as well as evaluations from actors provides a positive indication that this drama will help people affected by floods cope with their situation and bring about change. One focus group participant said that “people who hear the drama will learn something, and will know how to help those who are in danger.” Another said that “I [learned that] every time there is an emergency situation, we shouldn’t wait around until it gets worse.” Moreover, both focus group participants and actors felt they could identify with the characters, even relating several of the characters to people they knew who had gone through similar situations.
JOSE RAPOSO: 23 years old captain of the local soccer team and Suzanna’s boyfriend. Very rational, team oriented, and hardworking. He has dreams of becoming and international superstar. A natural born leader and a seeker/disseminator of information. Sometimes, however, when under great stress, he can become hasty and jump to conclusions.
SUZANNE VERDE: 22 years old girlfriend to Jose. She is a teacher in the local primary school. Her strong leadership streak is what draws her close to Jose, but at the same time creates a bit of friction between them. Disciplined and highly energetic, the locals see her as a voice of reason and respect her, though her single minded determination to accomplish some tasks sometimes make people uncomfortable and think of her as domineering. When it comes to people she loves, she goes extremely soft. She is hopelessly romantic around Jose, and alternates between being the doting daughter to her father Domingo and protective love to her 6 years old niece, MARIA.
DOMINGO: 60 years old shopkeeper, and father to Suzanne. He can be stubborn, and still believes in confronting troubles head on, not running away from them. He is a relatively successful shopowner, having one of the only shops in the community, a few livestock, and a beautiful house in the plains, with what he calls “a nice view of the river”. He loves Suzanne and is torn on how to let her go now that she is about to be married. He sometimes praises her aggression (when it bears success and praise from villagers) saying it’s inherited from him, but when Suzanne turns the same firmness on him, he dislikes it as too abrasive for a girl. He takes care of MARIA, one of the daughters to his son, who died in a road accident.
MARIA: The 6 years old granddaughter to Domingo, and niece to Suzanne. Happy girl, full of bubbly enthusiasm , and brings sunshine to everyone’s life. She is in love with reading now that she has just started school. The floods disrupt her bubbly life.
ALBERTO ‘COBRA’: Alberto is the comic character. He fails in everything he tries to do, simply because he wants to be everything. The only good thing he is good at is stealing, which he always manages to get away with since people don’t think him clever enough to do it. He normally hangs at the sidelines of the soccer pitch pretending to be a continuity announcer and/or cheerleader (when the team is playing a foreign team.). He likes taking credit for the team’s success (since he is their number one, one-man cheering squad) and they too like having him around since he makes them laugh. However, he is very shrewd, and regularly comes up with money making ventures, even when it means taking advantage of people in a
PEDRO: 23 years old team mate to Jose. He has a crush on Suzanne and wishes he can convince her not to marry Jose and get married to him. He also wishes he could be the captain of the soccer team since he is their most prolific striker, scoring in every game. Soccer-wise, he is better than Jose, and their rivalry plays out on and off the pitch.
Storyline season one
The story centres around Jose, a rural soccer team captain, and his girlfriend Suzanne. Jose and his team are practicing for an inter-district championship. It has been raining, and Jose becomes so concerned about flooding that he leaves the game to find out if there have been any warnings. He discovers there is severe flooding upriver and its heading toward his village. He and his teammates rush to warn the community, but their warning comes too late for many people to properly prepare or save their property.
In all the confusion Suzanne cannot find her niece Maria and heads off alone through the rapidly flooding village to search for her. She finds the young girl, but they both become stranded in the rising waters, forced to wait on a rooftop for help. Jose’s friend and teammate Pedro, who is also interested in Suzanne, finds them and brings them to the temporary camp the community has made outside of the floodplain.
Meanwhile Jose’s friend and the team’s unofficial commentator and number one ‘cheerleader,’ Cobra, has been making the most of the flooding by stealing goods left behind by the villagers, in particular foodstuffs from Suzanne’s father Domingo’s shop. He begins trading and selling the goods to the villagers, who have little choice but to buy his goods, as they were inadequately prepared and did not take much with them.
Suzanne tries to make the most of their situation and goes to collect firewood and water so her family can eat. On her way, someone attempts to rape her. Fortunately, Cobra hears the commotion and scares of the rapist. He brings her home to Jose, who jumps to conclusions and accuses Pedro. The two begin to fight. Eventually Cobra and Suzanne break them up, and Jose realises that his friend would never do something like that. It is jus the stress of the situation that made him react badly.
In the midst of all this, little Maria becomes ill. Suzanne recognises the symptoms of cholera and fears for her niece’s life. Fortunately, aid workers from the Red Cross arrive at the camp just in time and Maria is given medical attention. After a community meeting about sanitation and preventing further cholera outbreaks, an aid worker tells Suzanne that the community will have to make a tough decision – relocate to a resettlement area or attempt to rebuild their village outside of the flood plain. The villagers decide to rebuild.
Morale within the camp is low as everyone takes stock of what they lost and how much work they have ahead of them. The soccer team is also frustrated at missing the inter-district championships. Jose and Pedro decide to hold a “Floodplain Final” to help boost the community’s spirits. The series ends with the cheers and excitement of a world class soccer game which everyone – even the aid workers – has come out to see.
Season 2 storyline
In this season, the community begins to rebuild their village. There have been no new soccer matches, and just as the Bravos are starting to become tired with training for nothing, Cobra comes back from a trip to the nearby resettlement centre with news of a tournament between 5 villages in the area affected by the floods. They are registered to play and the team must focus on getting in shape. Jose and Suzanne have become very close, and Suzanne starts to pressure Jose to negotiate lobola. Jose slots online avoids this because he knows he has no money and no job. Tension between them rises as Jose spends more time focusing on the tournament and Suzanne feels increasingly ignored.
While helping Domingos clear land for the new village, Pedro is bitten by a snake and passes away. Mama Pedro is devastated and Jose nearly pulls out of the tournament. Max convinces him to continue in Pedro’s honour. Cobra moves from commentator to mid fielder.
Maria has recovered from cholera, but the experience has left her terrified of water. She hardly drinks anything, and becomes severely dehydrated. Cobra uses his sense of humour to convince her to drink some soda, and the two become friends.
Domingos has taken charge of the rebuilding, and resents the presence of Amelia, a young NGO worker who tries to encourage Domingos to build in different ways that are more resistant to disasters. Domingos is stubborn and doesn’t want to change. Tension between them rises.
Mama Pedro mourns her son, and passes her time listening to the radio. She hears a programme on agriculture that inspires her to get back into the fields and try some new ideas. Suzanna helps her. The mosquitos are very bad, and Suzanne falls ill with malaria.
The Bravos make it all the way to the final game, despite having a hard time without their star striker, but when Jose finds out about Suzanne’s illness, he apologises for not paying attention to her and again nearly pulls out of the tournament a second time. Cobra manages to bring some medicine from the resettlement centre and she begins to recover.
Domingos and the men at he building site have decided to make an emergency evacuation plan so that they don’t get caught unprepared next time something happens. Unfortunately, their plan is full of holes. Mama Pedro steps in and helps Domingos develop a solid plan that they can bring to the community.
Jose and Max know they have no hope of winning without a solid striker. One day they overhear Maria and Cobra playing games – Cobra is getting Maria to drink more water by doing soccer tricks for her. His aim and footwork are impeccable and Jose and Max convince him to be their striker in the final match.
The villagers decide to test their evacuation plan. The test is the same day as the final game, so the Bravos are not there, but it goes very well. At the soccer pitch, the Bravos need only one more goal to win. Its all up to Cobra, but the pressure is too much and he freezes. Jose convinces him to take the shot and the Bravos win the tournament in the final seconds of the game. Senhor Mendes, the tournament organizer, takes Jose aside and on the basis of his skills as coach and captain, offers him a part-time job coaching a children’s league at the resettlement centre. Jose is thrilled, and the season ends with cheers and jubilation.
Disaster Risk Reduction Manual
As part of the International Organisation for Migration (Maputo) Disaster Risk Reduction and Preparedness communications portfolio, CMFD is working with the IOM and partners to produce a training manual to build radio stations’ capacity to produce relevant and engaging broadcasts around disaster risk reduction. The project will also include conducting two trainings with community stations using this manual, in the Gaza and Zambezia provinces. Media is a key source of up to date information for many people during natural disasters and emergencies; by equipping community broadcasters with both knowledge and skills to communicate vital DRR information to their listeners, the project will help to build individuals and communities’ ability to cope with disasters.
The activity will build on research and lessons learned in the production of the Bravos do Zambeze serial radio drama, especially related to key information and messages that radios need to communicate. Beyond serving as a tool for early warning, greater access to community radio in the Zambeze Valley and Limpopo Valley serves to strengthen communities’ preparedness and response to disaster risks by providing a resource for education, information and open community dialogue.
Research/ literature review - The first step is to research international radio manuals covering Early Warning Systems and flood disaster risk reduction journalism and broadcasting, as well as research and compile information concerning past manuals and personnel used by UNESCO, ICS and other radio training partners. This literature and resource review will help to identify good practices in DRR journalism, as well as identify gaps in existing local resources that the new manual can fill. Appropriate resources available locally can also be used to complement the manual. For example, some existing audio resources may be used as examples of good practice in the manual to help inspire creative coverage of DRR.
Training modules - The DRR manual will be packaged to allow for new modules to be added on issues such as drought, cyclones, and other disasters and health related topics over the course of the project. The manual will be designed so that it can be used by trainers or as self-study; it will be designed to be a user-friendly reference so that it becomes a handy tool for broadcasters to use on an ongoing basis. Each module will include: background information on the issue; sources and contacts; ideas for community radio programming; case studies of how other radio stations or communities have approached this topic; and trainers notes.
- General radio broadcasting & monitoring-The initial module will be a broad overview of broadcast and production basics in the context of DRR, as well as strategies for monitoring and evaluating. Ideas for programming will be included in all of the modules, however this first module will serve as an overview of how DRR can be integrated in various kinds of programming before, during, and after disasters.
- Early Warning Systems (EWS) - This module will focus on providing broadcasters with information they need to know about early warning systems so that they are able communicate this to their listeners. It will also include raising their awareness about the need to inform their listeners about warning systems long before a disaster happens. The manual will highlight how to communicate such information in a way that is engaging for listeners.
- Pre, during and post flood journalism - This module will focus specifically on what broadcasters can do before, during, and after a flood. It will build significantly on research and lessons learned in the production of Bravos do Zambeze, as well as the training that took place in Caia. This module may cover: community preparedness; communicating climate change; local solution; and community participation.
The workshops - Using the above-mentioned training manuals, two workshops will be held, one for the 4 radio stations in Gaza and the other for the 6 radio stations based in the Zambeze Valley. These workshops will be directly based on the trainers notes found in each module, so that those participating may also use the same module to conduct training in their own stations. This will be very important as we are striving for a broad awareness of DRR in stations, so that this information can be integrated into various aspects of programming. This 5-day workshop would be designed to build capacity and technical skills of broadcasters to produce DRR programming, and also use the manual to train their colleagues.