region and small island papers 20
COMMUNITIES IN ACTION: SHARING THE EXPERIENCES
Ms Fathimath Ghina, Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and Small Islands, UNESCO-Paris in her presentation highlighted the success of the forum and emphasised that input from meeting participants was needed to suggest new discussion themes and to provide lead articles, and also to assist with expanding the list of email addresses. Future approaches would include emphasis on solutions.
Mr. Hans Thulstrup, UNESCO Office for the Pacific States, Samoa in his presentation discussed ways to assess the impact of the forum in the Pacific. He noted how the articles are often posted in island newspapers, referred to in major events, and acknowledged by other organizations. He described how Pacific islanders used the forum to express controversial opinions without fear of repercussions, and outlined specific actions that had resulted from the forum.
Ms. Colleen Wint Smith, Caribbean Regional Radio Project, Barbados, was unable to get to the meeting because of the travel disruptions caused by Hurricane Emily. However her presentation is available in which she had planned to describe the Caribbean Regional Radio Project. This covers six Caribbean countries, including Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and seeks to develop local capacity to produce and deliver radio programmes on parenting and early childhood development. Her presentation also covers UNESCO’s multimedia centres in the Caribbean and their role in addressing poverty in isolated indigenous communities.
Mr. Abdullah Shakir Mohammed of the Ministry of Fisheries, Agriculture and Marine Resources, Maldives outlined an ongoing Small Islands Voice activity in the Maldives that involves broadcasting participatory radio programmes on selected development issues. Information packages will be circulated before the programmes are aired and people will be encouraged to call in with their views. Listener feedback will be used to assess the success of the programmes.
Ms. Elizabeth Taylor, Corporation for the Sustainable Development of San Andres, Old Providence and Santa Catalina (CORALINA), San Andres Archipelago described school-based radio programmes which are broadcast throughout the school. Programmes are prepared by a group of students and topics cover everything from peace to natural resources. Other programmes, prepared by students, are broadcast to a wider audience with the help of a local radio station.
Mr. Leomore McDonald, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, described the plans of the Bequia Community High School to start a community radio station in the school. The radio station would provide added motivation for young people at risk (in Bequia especially school-aged boys) to stay in school and develop technical and communication skills. Preliminary activities relating to licensing and preparing a location for the radio station are underway.
Whilst most of the countries participating in Small Islands Voice are Small Island Developing States, this is not exclusively the case. Zanzibar and the San Andres Archipelago, two island groups involved in Small Islands Voice, are parts of larger continental countries, however, they share many of the problems of Small Island Developing States.
At present there are 13 partner islands involved in Small Islands Voice (Bahamas, Cook Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Fiji, Maldives, Mauritius, Palau, San Andres Archipelago, Seychelles, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Zanzibar). This is besides the other islands from all around the world that receive and contribute to the Small Islands Voice Global Internet Forum. Niue in the Pacific is likely to become directly involved in Small Islands Voice in the coming months. Requests to join Small Islands Voice usually come directly from the countries themselves, sometimes from the UNESCO National Commission or from other organizations.
Meeting participants were in favour of having additional islands join Small Islands Voice – this was viewed as a way of further sharing the benefits and enriching the experiences.
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