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Building change-makers through community radio


19 August 2009

Indira Mansingh

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Radio Bundelkhand is engaging the local population in the central Indian hinterland to help them communicate, educate and bring their issues to the fore, and evolve an informed community.

Azadpura is a village in Bundelkhand region. This area faces acute water scarcity and one problem that the women faced was a faulty well which required urgent repairing. The women aired this problem on Radio Bundelkhand and within four days the concerned authority replaced the missing wheel of the well. This is the power of Radio Bundelkhand, an initiative of Development Alternatives.

Community Radio for facilitating dialogue and interactive communication

Radio Bundelkhand1
Image credits: The Better India / Listening to Radio Bundelkhand

The purpose of setting up Radio Bundelkhand, as identified with the help of  communities in the radius of the radio station, is to work along with them to use this communication medium to create awareness, give information, participate in local self governance and provide entertainment – all based on requests and feedback from the community. The audience includes the communities in the radius of the broadcast range – with special attention to women, youth and the marginalised groups.

 
Radio Bundelkhand2
Image credits: The Better India / Community Members on the Radio

The villages these reporters represent are Azadpura, Ramnagar, Sitapur, Basova, Bagan, Bhagwantpur, Ghatao, Jamuniya, Gujerra Kalan, Mathrapur and Ghatao. There is also a Management Committee comprising the Sarpanch (elected village-head) of Basova Village, doctors, farmers and Self Help Group members.

Until now, Radio Bundelkhand has the longest duration of programming of four hours a day, seven days a week, in Bundelkhandi and Hindi amongst the government licensed community radio stations in India.

The Government of India has given licenses to several NGOs throughout India to start community radios in their project areas. DA is one of the first to set up such a radio with the communities it has been serving for more than two decades in the Bundelkhand region.

The communities have decided that they would like information related to employment and livelihood opportunities, development of women, girl’s education, legal rights, farmers’ issues, training, their culture and history, how to ensure the availability of basic infrastructure such as water, energy and roads, development issues, and any other information sought by the communities.

The broadcast timings in the morning and evening have been selected by the communities, with the women preferring the morning and the men the evening.

The programming, based on issues and content identified by the communities, is broadcast in the formats which they have preferred, that include the use of traditional Bundelkhandi songs, folk music and nataks, discussions, reports, commodity prices, phone-ins, experts speak, coverage of events in villages, jokes and satire, listeners’ letters and feedback.

The Wireless Operating License was issued on July 31, 2008 and the first transmission took place on August 15, 2008 with the broadcast of the national anthem.

Meanwhile the selected community reporters were trained over three months and a woman from Sitapur village inaugurated the station on the eve of Diwali.

Community radio broadcasting/narrowcasting has allowed the rural poor to develop their communication in a language they understand. Community radio fosters debate on issues, facilitates access to government, decision-making and helps community members to organise themselves and evolve to manage their own affairs. Radio Budelkhand is characterised by its signature tune and jingles which declare that it is “Apna Radio Apni Baatein” – Our radio Our conversations.

Reaching our communities

The reach of the community radio is in a wide range of approximately 5-10 kms and 25 villages with a population of 15000 in the coverage area that are benefiting through the infotainment-based programmes.

So far, Radio Bundelkhand has penetrated to the rural communities settled in and around TARAgram Orchha like the villages of Gundrai, Chandravan, Bagan, Orchcha, Sitapur, Azadpura, Lachmanpura.

The targeted beneficiaries are the marginalised and poorest with special emphasis on women and the unemployed youth who are the most vulnerable but also the potential change-makers. By selecting women community reporters, marginalised community reporters in an average age group of 20 we hope to reach them better.
The Management Committee also has a woman self-help group head. DA aims to ensure the participation of local people for the programming, broadcast and management of the station by the community itself.

Indira Mansingh is Chief Advisor, Development Alternatives.

 
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