UNESCO-EU funded project kicks off new community radio initiatives in Mafraq and Zarqa governorates
Amman, 12 June 2016 – “Al Dhlayl is a big region and it is not covered by the media. The people here need a voice that speaks for them and their needs,” said Najwa Suleiman, director of Attaya Charity Association, who is working on establishing the one of the first community radios in Zarqa governorate.
Al Dhlayl town is a poor industrial and farming town in North East Zarqa. Geographically, Al Dhlayl town is close to Mafraq City and the area has a diverse population composed of Jordanians, Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Considered one of the poverty pockets in Jordan, with high illiteracy rates (12.5% compared with the 7.2% national average), two emerging community radio initiatives are working to address the economic and social issues in the region.
Ms Suleiman is the energetic leader of Attaya, and she speaks with passion about her desire to improve the lives of women and other marginalized groups in Al Dhlayl and surroundings. “We wanted to address the problems that we have in the community, and we want the voice of the people to reach the government officials,” added Ms Suleiman.
The new radio station will rely on a group of volunteers who will produce programs on youth and labor issues (especially foreign workers), legal and economic challenges of farmers, health, women’s rights and empowerment, and refugees.
The Al Dhlayl community radio initiative falls under the framework of the community media component of the EU funded and UNESCO implemented “Support to Media in Jordan” project. As part of it, UNESCO consultants and media experts Ayman Bardawil, Sawsan Zaidah and Mohammed Rayyan are providing technical support to seven new initiatives around Jordan in the governance, managerial, content and technical aspects of setting up a radio station. They have been mentoring the initiatives as they go through the phases of obtaining the licenses, setting up equipment and offices and beginning to produce radio content.
“The consultants have done a great job. We have the idea of this project and the energy, but we need a lot of help when it comes to technical issues. We are very enthusiastic to do the work and we really want to thank Sawsan, Ayman and Mohammed, as our goal and purpose are to serve the community, and they are assisting us in doing that,” said Ms Suleiman.
About 30 minutes north of Al Dhlayl, Al Al-Bayt University is establishing another new community radio station that will serve a community of more than 15,000 students and a population of 300,000 people in Mafraq. Al Al-Bayt University is the only public university based in Mafraq city. The proposed radio station recently obtained a license, but is currently unable to operate due to lack of funds, equipment and trained staff.
The University hopes that the radio will provide a local platform to local communities in the governorate to express their needs as well as their priorities. At a recent meeting with UNESCO, Al Al-Bayt University President Professor Dia Arafa expressed his willingness to engage and lead the surrounding community in this initiative.
There are currently no local radios that broadcast from Mafraq. Only three radio stations cover the city or parts of it, none of them reaching Zaatri Camp.
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