10.12.2002 -

Hands On Community Radio in Nepal

In the shadow of political turmoil and a history of isolation, the community radio scene in Nepal continues to be one of the country¹s bright lights, attracting attention from across the region. Hands-On Community Radio, a travelling workshop taking place in Nepal between 3 and 13 December is looking at why community radio is on the cutting edge of media in Nepal and how to take its energy to the rest of South Asia.

Nepal¹s community radio sector made impressive progress in the late-1990s establishing a precedent for the subcontinent. "Radio is a very powerful tool in a country like Nepal. This workshop is the first of its kind in South Asia. We are all here because we believe in community radio and Nepal is a leader for participatory radio in this part of the world," said Madhu Acharya of the BBC World Service Trust in Kathmandu. With participation from a variety of community radio groups the 13-day workshop is sponsored by Media South Asia project of IDS and organised by the Media Support Network (MSN) of CECI-Asia with support from UNESCO.


Unlike most gatherings and study tours that focus on big NGOs and policy makers, Hands On Community Radio has brought together the grassroots practitioners those established in Nepal sharing with those emerging in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Karen McHarg, from MSN said "the most exciting aspect of the workshop is that we¹re doing hands on work with the doers, not just talking with the talkers. We¹re exploring Nepal¹s community media while simultaneously making programmes that participants can take back and play for their communities at home."


Starting off in Kathmandu, the first two days were an introduction to the BIG topic of community radio in South Asia. Raghu Mainali, a key figure in Nepali community radio, has strong ideas about the medium in Nepal. Speaking as a guest expert on the second day, Mainali said that community radio begins with abandoning pre-conceptions about radio and about the relationship between the people and the media. Prompted about sustainability, Mainali responded by asking; "how poor farmers who had never saved a rupee in their lives could amass cultural treasures like temples and monuments the value of which could be millions of dollarsŠ? Self reliance must be approached with a combination of a community¹s capital, not just financial and physical assets, but human and social assets as well, including skills, trust and respect."


Beginning on Day Three, this mobile community radio team is on the road for four days in Nepal¹s radio landscape; after which participants will settle in for five days of intensive radio production and first hand exposure to two of Nepal¹s most interesting community radios.

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