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CR stations should build a strong network for sustainability: Paolo Mefalopulos, UNICEF

Feb 18, 2012

A strong network of partnerships will enable CR stations to run in a sustainable manner, feel community radio representatives who have assembled in New Delhi to attend the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting's 2nd Community Radio Sammelan.

New Delhi: The 2nd National Community Radio Sammelan being organised by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India in New Delhi from 18-20 February 2012, is bringing together 126 operating Community Radio Stations (CRS) in India under a single platform, to discuss common problems faced by them and find solutions. 

In a session chaired by Paolo Mefalopulos, Head, Communications for Development, UNICEF, CRS' expressed, through their experience, that the biggest challenge facing these CR stations operating at the grassroots is lack of infrastructure and a stable source of finances. Mefalopulos feels that sustainability is the key to a rich and diversified community radio in India. The idea was echoed by the 111 CR stations present at the gathering, who exchanged their ground experiences with each other.

Financial inclusion

In Waynad district in the southern state of Kerala, Radio Mattoli is making a huge difference to the lives of the tribal communities and marginalised farmers. It is the first community radio in Kerala and perhaps the only one to air programmes in the regional tribal language. 

"To sustainably manage a community radio, the four pillars content, finance, technology and human resource have to be strengthened,” says Father Thomas of Radio Mattoli.  Of these, finance is the most critical pillar, he added.

Fr Thomas highlighted the rich network of Radio Mattoli with Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA) and the National Human Rights Commission, who lend them financial support. Through association with NABARD, Radio Mattoli is leading by example in terms of financial inclusion for the tribals.  “I appeal all radio stations present here to reach out to NABARD, which is willing to provide financial help to community radio stations," appealed Fr Thomas.

By mobilising funds from the Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) and other government schemes, Namma Dhwani radio, which operates in two talukas in Karnataka the community radio, is ensuring informative programmes to its listeners. "Sustainability is ability to ensure growth of participating listeners," feels Vazdev of Namma Dhwani.

Women participation

Besides lack of infrastructure and funds, the biggest challenge faced by Radio Mewat, operating from Mewat in India’s northern state of Haryana, is minimal participation of women, stated Archana from Radio Mewat. The state, otherwise, boasts of high development indicators, but, has a very poor sex ratio of 830 girls per 1,000 boys. "Women, who do not step out of their homes, are even reluctant to participate in community radio programmes," Archana notes. 

Radio Mewat is now, encouraging these women to be more involved in the community radio activities by paying them double the money paid to their male counterparts. 

These and many more issues flagged during the session will be addressed at the three day event.

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