UNESCO’s support for Local radios changing lives in Southern AfricaThe UNESCO/SIDA funded project, “Empowering local radios with ICTs” is strengthening the bond between communities and their local radios thereby unlocking the value of communication in local development.
!AH Radio in Tsumkwe, Namibia is one of the 32 local radio stations participating in this project that aims to improve the lives of the poor, especially women and girls, by raising local radio stations' programming quality. The radio station which was established in 2003 by the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), covers a radius of 170 km reaching about 30 000 people. However it is still operating through analogue system.
UNESCO’s support has enabled it to acquire some ICT tools to enhance programming and plans are underway for the station to switch from analogue to digital broadcasting.
“With the intervention of UNESCO and SIDA we acquired some ICT tools like voice recorders and cell phones, which make it easier for our reporters and producers to record community voices and communicate better with the radio station,” said Mr. Absalom Tjombonde NBC staffer working with !AH Radio.
Tsumkwe is a settlement in the Otjozondjupa region of Namibia and is home to the indigenous San communities. It lacks basic infrastructure and education facilities. !AH Radio plays a crucial role in providing the much needed information, education and entertainment in this area where people have limited or no access to other media.
27- year old Kathria Soroas, a correspondent and producer for !AH Radio, said the project is helping the Radio station to fulfil its mandate in an effective and efficient manner.
“We make programmes on education, health issues, teenage pregnancies and other issues that are not openly discussed otherwise. We do a lot on education but not in the same way it is done in the mainstream media. We bring it home in local languages and the project has given us the skills and tools to do so,” said Soroas.
Mr. !Amace Kgao,a father of two teenage girls, said the radio station has helped him realise the importance of education. “Whatever happens, I will ensure that my two daughters go to school so they can have a better future,” he said.
A visit to Radio Atlantis is South Africa shows the same trend. Radio Atlantis Station Manager, Ms. Rachel Watson said training on the effective use of ICTs and provision of basic equipment such as mobile phones has enabled them to reach most of their community members and receive instant feedback unlike before. “The feedback that we get is important as it enables us to improve our programming,” said Watson.
Dreams are also coming true for some community members who are engaged as correspondents. One youth correspondent at Radio Atlantis, Shahima Haoust said the project has fulfilled her dream of working for radio.
Some of the supported radios have also gone on to excel and win awards in their respective countries. Radio Riverside (South Africa) this year scooped the Sanlam and the Media Development and Diversity Agency award for Excellence in In-depth Coverage and Current Affairs.
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