29.10.2012 - Communication & Information Sector

IPDC supports Kenyan community media in local content

KCOMNET officials in session at Radio Mang’elete - © KCOMNET

In an effort to empower community-based media groups in Kenya with professional skills for the production and sharing of locally-relevant content, UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) has partnered with the Kenya Community Media Network (KCOMNET) to host a five-day training and content development workshop in Nairobi from 22 to 26 October 2012.

Radio is acknowledged as the most widespread electronic communications device in the world, a unique, convenient and affordable means of reaching the world’s populace, even in very remote areas.

According to KCOMNET, nearly all Kenyans are radio listeners and receive their news and information primarily from radio. Community radio has revolutionized the manner in which local communities express their culture, receive entertainment and news, and engage in dialogue and development.

Even as Kenya experienced a severe test to its stability in 2007 when violence broke out following disputed presidential results, studies indicate that community radios fostered national cohesion and played a much more positive role than their commercial partners during the election season, says KCOMNET.

Despite the important role which community radio stations play in Kenya, these stations have continued to face vast challenges in terms of resources and capacity.

The last week training workshop primarily targeted the youth to enhance the capacities of community radio stations and community media groups to source, develop and share local content through community-based and online platforms. 

The workshop specifically aimed to equip community media groups in Kenya with the professional skills to produce and disseminate local content in order to inform and engage community members in debates concerning issues of community and national importance within their locality.

Participants at the workshop represented radio stations from five regions in Kenya: Radio Mang’elete in Kibwezi, Mug’ambo Jwetu in Meru, Sauti FM in Rarieda, Rware FM in Nyeri and Radio Mwanedu in Voi.

As the workshop came to a close, participants reflected on what they have learned:

“This workshop has given me an opportunity to learn ways of engaging the community, how to source, package and produce quality programmes relevant to the audience, and the use of social media, online platforms and mobile phone technologies in upgrading our programmes,” said John Muraguri, a presenter at Rware FM. “I shall bring to my radio new ideas, skills, and best practices and also educate my colleagues on different themes and lessons learnt.”

Other participants shared a new awareness of the importance of community radio:

“I now know that community radios play a very crucial role in empowering and educating the community and should not only be used to entertain listeners,” said Timothy Mutua, a presenter at Mugambo Jyetu FM.

The workshop will be followed by monthly site visits to the five regions to monitor, evaluate and mentor local processes on content sharing through community radio stations, community social centres and online platforms. In addition, a video documentary will be produced to share the lessons and experiences between stations.

The ultimate aim of the project is to ensure that community media serve all parts of society by promoting dialogue on development issues, such as good governance, social justice and human rights, gender parity, implementation of the new constitution and national cohesion.

KCOMNET, the workshop’s implementing partner, provides a platform for networking between community media, other media stakeholders and the general public. It also mobilizes resources for the development of community media in Kenya.

The project is sponsored by UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), which is the only multilateral forum in the UN system designed to mobilize the international community to discuss and promote media development in developing countries. This activity is being implemented within the framework of UNESCO's contribution towards strengthening free, independent and pluralistic media.

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