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To succeed, peacebuilding efforts must be seen as legitimate and must manage the expectations of the population. How the population perceives those efforts, therefore, is crucial. Much of the first part of this report explored perception and attitudes about social reconstruction needs and efforts. Perceptions and opinions are shaped not only by the nature and characteristics of particular reconstruction programs, but also by the information that individuals receive. The 2010 survey included a series of questions to capture individuals’ access to information and media consumption. 

For most of the conflict period, northern Uganda was reportedly “thoroughly inimical to information seeking and use” by the local populace, with the population having limited access to media and the local leadership failing to relay information to IDPs in the camps.[1] Even now, as in the rest of Uganda, the press may be considered only “partly free.” [2] The publication of information deemed to be contrary to the government’s view may result in warnings, arrest, harassment, assault, court proceedings and even imprisonment by the government.[3] This history of media isolation and current limits on the press has hindered the ability of media actors to hold the ruling government to account and promote peace building.[4] However, over the last few years, several projects have sought to strengthen media infrastructure and programming, especially radio. At the same time, the resettlement of the population outside of camps toward less densely populated areas may have changed how individuals access and use information. Therefore, several questions were intended to capture media consumption habits.

Recent programs to develop media and communication facilities in the war-affected area appear to have improved information dissemination; 83 percent of respondents found their access to information to have improved compared to that during the conflict. This may also reflect respondents’ greater ability to travel. However, about one in three respondents (35%) said they were “not at all” or just “a little bit” informed about what happens in their community, and even more reported to be uninformed about what happens in northern Uganda (65%) and in Uganda as a whole (79%). These results suggest that access to information remains a challenge. On average, respondents in Gulu reported being the most informed about events in northern Uganda and Uganda. The respondents in Gulu were also the most likely to report an improvement in their access to information.

Figure 22: Information

Figure 22 - Information

Access to media is challenging, and radio remains the primary source of information. For over half of respondents (55%), radio was the main source of information, while friends and family were the main sources of information for one in three respondents (33%). For 8 percent it was local leaders and authorities. Less than 1 percent mentioned newspapers.

Figure 23: Main Source of Information

Figure 23 - Main Source of Information

Figure 23 - Main Source of Information

Access to radio was further explored. While 55 percent considered radio to be their main source of information, four out of five respondents (79%) reported listening to the radio at least occasionally (slightly more than in 2007). About half of respondents listened to the radio everyday (similar to 2007), while another 39 percent listened to it at least once a week. Regarding popular stations, Mega FM, a government-sponsored station, had the widest audience, with 83 percent of respondents mentioning listening to the station. Even the LRA leadership has occasionally contacted the radio to make points and dispute what they have heard.[5] The next most frequently cited station was Radio Rupiny, mentioned by one in three respondents (36%). Over 60 percent of those listening to the radio in Gulu and Amuru reported Radio Rupiny among the stations they mainly listen to, while about 10 percent mentioned Radio Rupiny in Kitgum and Pader. Other differences across districts include: in Pader Luo FM was widely listened to (78%), as well as Rappa FM (33%) and Piwa FM (30%), but those stations were seldom mentioned elsewhere. In Kitgum, Pol FM and Mighty Fire were mentioned by 52 percent and 39 percent of the radio users, respectively, compared to 7 percent or less in the other districts.

Figure 24: Radio Station audiences*

Figure 24 - Radio Station audiences*

* Only radio stations mentioned by at least 25% of the respondents in at least one district are reported here.


Respondents reported listening to a wide variety of programs but cited news programs the most (80%). Other popular types of programs included music/entertainment (44%), programs on social issues such as health, education, agriculture (43%), debates (34%), and peace, recovery and development programs (28%). In addition, the survey assessed the audience for a series of NUTI-sponsored programs on peace and recovery. Over half the respondents indicated having listened to a radio drama about return and resettlement called “I'll strengthen my knees, the trumpet of the hunter” (55%) and to a public information campaign called “Disseminating information on the return process” (70%). The results reiterate that radio is an effective medium to reach the population. Only 7 percent of respondents had never listened to any of the programs.

In addition to the radio programs, about three of every five respondents had heard about NUTI’s field and community-based programs: “Peace and Love in our Homes” (59%), “Peace and reconciliation through music, dance and drama competition” (66%), and “Rebuilding our homeland” (55%).

Figure 25: NUTI’s sponsored peace and recovery program outreach rate

Figure 25 - NUTI’s sponsored peace and recovery program outreach rate

In contrast to radios, newspapers are seldom available outside of the main cities: less than 1 percent considered newspapers to be their main source of information, and only 12 percent reported reading a newspaper at least occasionally. Newspapers were considered prohibitively expensive (i.e., between 1000 to 1500 Ugandan Shillings per issue). This may explain why most respondents who read a newspaper only read it once a week or less (80%). The most read newspapers are Rupiny (57%), New Vision (51%), and Daily Monitor (42%). As with access to radio, newspaper readership was most frequent in Gulu (19%) compared to less than 10 percent in Kitgum (9%), Pader (9%), and Amuru (4%). Among those reading a newspaper, the proportion of respondents who read the newspaper at least twice to six times a week was highest in Gulu (34%), compared to less than 17 percent in all of the other districts. Finally, just 6 percent of respondents reported watching television occasionally, most frequently in Gulu (12%).

The survey further assessed respondents’ perceptions of press freedom and journalists. As outlined previously, several sources suggest the press is only partially free and faces pressure from the government. The survey responses supported those opinions, with 45 percent of respondents stating that the broadcast and print media are “not at all,” “a little bit” or only “partially” free from government influence. (This is a slight improvement from the 2007 survey, when over half of the respondents said journalists and broadcasters had “no” to “moderate” freedom to report openly and honestly on social and political issues in northern Uganda.) Nearly one-third of respondents (31%) said the media were “quite a bit” or “totally free” to report what they want. But as many as one in four (25%) reported that they did not know how much freedom the media enjoy in their reporting. Nevertheless, 59 percent trusted “quite a bit” or “extremely” what is broadcast on the radio, and 32 percent trusted “quite a bit” or “extremely” what is printed in newspapers.

[1] Sturges P, Information and Communication in Bandit Country: an exploratory study of civil conflict in northern Uganda 1986—2007, Information Development 2008; 24  (3) 204-212.

[2] Freedom House, Press Freedom 2009, (accessed August 2010).

[3] Acayo C and Mnjama N, The Print Media and Conflict Resolution in Northern Uganda, African Journal on Conflict Resolution 2004; 4 (1) 27-43.

[4] Ibrahim M, Rebel voices and radio actors: in pursuit of dialogue and debate in northern Uganda, Development in Practice 2009; 19 (4 & 5) 610-620.

[5] Paul Sturges, 2008