The United States has described independent media as an essential element of democracy in South Sudan as it announced new funding for the sector.
Over the weekend, the U.S government said it has allocated $12 million to facilitate access to credible, accurate, and reliable information through the media in South Sudan.
The three-year funding announced by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will promote the sustainability of high-quality, independent radio operations across the country.
In a statement seen by The Radio Community on October 16, 2022, the U.S Embassy in South Sudan said the agreement with Pact Inc. will “continue the U.S. Government’s long-standing support for independent media in South Sudan and the disputed Abyei Area on the South Sudan-Sudan border, as an essential element of democracy.”
The money is expected to mostly “improve media content and professionalism of community radio stations” to provide citizens with a platform to encourage a more responsive government for South Sudanese citizens.
“…by improving access to credible, accurate, and reliable information; promoting financial, institutional, and social sustainability; and investing in high-quality, credible journalism,” the statement underscored.
It noted a recent South Sudan National Audience Survey that confirmed radio to be the most listened to media tool in South Sudan
“The USAID-funded 2021 South Sudan National Audience Survey confirmed that radio remains the most used and accessible source of information in South Sudan, although some areas, including Unity and Upper Nile States, have lower rates of access to radio than other areas,” it said.
Between 2013 and 2022, the U.S government provided nearly $100 million to support media development in South Sudan, under the i-STREAM activity implemented by Internews.
This round of media funding dubbed ‘Sustainable Independent Media’ Activity is expected build on the accomplishments of i-STREAM activity. PACT International and sub-awardee IREX will implement it, with other partners.
Among the beneficiaries of past i-Stream funding was The Radio Community [TRC] with a network of community radios in Eastern Equatoria, Warrap, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Lakes, Upper Nile, Unity states, among other locations.