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Video: Community Radios Fill the Information Gap

radio by http://www.flickr.com/photos/roycostello/

radio by http://www.flickr.com/photos/roycostello/

In a highly globalized and digitalized world, sometimes we may forget that in many regions of the world, not even electricity is available, and the possibility of using internet as an alternative information source is still a distant dream. It is in locations like Guatemala, Chad and India that community radio rises as the alternative for native communities to speak about their concerns, hear news and stories, receive information and all this in their native languages.

In Guatemala, Proyecto Suri [es] has been giving a community radio workshop to the CUC, the Peasant Unity Committee [es], so they can train different members of indigenous communities in the techniques to produce radio shows geared specifically to their needs of information. In a country where there are 54 living languages [en], there are places where Spanish, the official language in Guatemala, is not spoken, or when it is, it is spoken as a second language. Proyecto Suri writes about how community radios have assisted in keeping these languages alive:

Desde 1997 que el Concejo lucha por el derecho de las comunidades indígenas de comunicarse en su propios idiomas y a traves de sus propios medios de comunicación. Es por esto que en Guatemala las radios comunitarias cumplen uno de los roles mas importantes para lograr la recuperación de nuestras culturas originarias.

Since 1997 the Council has been fighting for the rights of the indigenous communities to communicate in their own languages and through their own means of communication. This is why in Guatemala, community radios carry out one of the most important roles to accomplish the recovery of our native cultures.

The following video [es] was uploaded by ProyectoSuri and explains the work of CUC and their efforts in community radio.

In Chad, Internews [en] is living up to their mission by creating a series of community radio stations in refugee camps from scratch: from building the stations, the radio towers and training internally displaced Chadians and Sudanese journalists to produce informational programming on topics such as women's issues, humanitarian relief as well as news relevant to the interests of those who now call the refugee camps their home. The following video [en] shows us how the community radios have improved the quality of life for those who produce it as well as the audience:

In India, Our Voice (Namma Dhwani) is the organization who has jumped over hurdles and discovered how to make sure that their community radio reaches the desired populations. Following, a bit about the Namma Dhwani community radio:

In total, eight community workers run the Namma Dhwani audio production centre. They regularly produce and “narrowcast” programmes on a range of issues from organic farming, to rain water harvesting, HIV/AIDS, drip irrigation, and many other local development issues. (“Narrowcast” is a term coined by the producers to indicate the fact that they have, as yet, been denied the right “broadcast” their own programmes). In the absence of this right, the workers have designed a process where audio cassettes are played to relevant community groups at various village centres.

Every Tuesday evening for about an hour, the Namma Dhwani programme is transmitted over a loudspeaker as part of the village santhe/mandi (market) place just outside the production centre. Information about goods being sold and crop prices are included in the “narrowcasts”, along with social messages and even birthday greetings.

Their video, also produced by them, shows us how the programming is selected and how the community is benefiting from this effort:

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