Local self help groups strengthen community radio
Women self help groups are playing an increasingly important role since the community radio station "Mandakini Ki Awaaz" (The Voice of Mandakini) located in Bhanaj, Rudraprayag district, Uttarakhand, India started its operations in 2004.
In the last few months, their participation has registered a quantum leap forward with the women taking ownership of the sustainability of their radio centre.
In February 2007, a women self help group in the village of Machkandi opened a post office savings account to collect funds for the repair and maintenance of the satellite radio receiver that their group had received from UNESCO. The community radio has been established with technical support and training from Ideosync Media Combine and Equal Access, two NGOs working in the field of development communication and long standing partners of community radio groups in the region.
Prema Devi, who heads one of the groups says: "When we buy a buffalo, we have to think of all the related arrangements that go with it - fodder, a clean space, and plenty of water; [similarly] when we have helped set up a source of information for the community, we have to think about how to maintain it as well." The group's decision is reflective of their resolve to play a greater part in the process of information dissemination to the local communities.
The radio team has also worked with local schools to involve students in creative activities. The Principal of a Junior High School in Kyunja village says: "After the establishment of the Bhanaj [community media] centre, our students have received training. And, as a result students have started publishing a fortnightly newsletter called 'School Jagran'. This has given them a space to express themselves besides resulting in a marked improvement in their language skills." Today, the groups that are partnering with Mandakini Ki Awaaz CR are unanimous in their commitment to the development of the local community.
In another show of community action, the villagers of Koti in Tehri Garhwal district worked collectively with Hevalavaani Samudayik Radio to move the satellite radio receiver provided to the village from its original site to the local panchayat ghar (panchayat hall).
As the earlier caretaker at a youth group was not able to maintain the unit, the villagers decided to move the receiver to the panchayat ghar. Appreciating the villagers for their action, Rajendra Negi, a member of the Hevalvaani CR group, said: "If this kind of collective action continues to prevail, it won't be long before community radio stations achieve their full potential and help in the establishment of model societies."
Story contributed by Manvendra Negi, Mandaakini Ki Awaaz community radio at Bhanaj, India
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