In a letter to members of the Budget Committee in the House and Senate about the proposal to cut all funding for Voice of America’s Central Africa Service Kirundi/Kinyarwanda radio program in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget, the Catholic Task Force for Africa (CTFA) argues that when looking for places to cut funding, the U.S. government should examine money sent to oppressive governments in the region before suggesting that a (comparatively very economical) radio station be closed.
This program reaches listeners not only in Rwanda and Burundi, but also in eastern D.R. Congo, Uganda, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya. There are over 31 million inhabitants who speak or understand both languages in Rwanda and Burundi alone according to the 2013 World Bank Census. Thus, VOA Kirundi/Kinyarwanda is an important foreign policy tool and an essential voice in a region where media sources are often repressed. It should not be cut.
International media options in local languages are dropping like flies. The Rwandan government just suspended Gahuza, a Kinyarwanda British media outlet, and also refused to renew the contract of Deutsche Welle, a long-standing German radio relay station. The government in neighboring Burundi shut down the popular African Public Radio in April during public protests demanding that President Pierre Nkurunziza respect the constitutional presidential term limit. VOA Kirundi/Kinyarwanda services are crucial, now more than ever, for unrestricted and objective news and programming. Read the full letter here