Empowering local radios with ICTs

A woman weaves as she listens to Mafeteng Community Radio (one of the project beneficiaries in Lesotho) © UNESCO.

The UNESCO project "Empowering Local Radio with ICTs" addresses local radios’ lack of quality programming, in particular scarcity of reporting on development issues and limited debate platforms for the poor. It offers support on priority areas of public concern, and facilitates active participation of the poor in public debates – thus, in their own development.

It targets the poor, in particular those living in slum or rural areas –especially poor women and girls. It addresses their lack of access to information, particularly of news relevant to development covered in a comprehensible language, such as information on health and agriculture, on the basic services available to them and, in general, on the issues that affect their lives. It also addresses the lack of opportunities for the poor to exercise freedom of expression and opinion and to be heard in the public debate.

 For this purpose, the project fosters journalism in the local public interest, by building the capacities of local radios to make programmes in priority areas and acquire the editorial know-how to handle local news. By strengthening local radios, the project contributes to fostering media pluralism in Africa. The project contributes to strengthening free, independent and pluralistic media, civic participation and gender-responsive communication for sustainable development. More specifically, it enhances editorial independence and quality programming in local media serving communities. It also offers training opportunities for media professionals and fosters complementarities between public, private and local media.

 The project fosters ICTs as a support for broadcasting. It facilitates the effective use of information and communication technologies for development. It operates within the growing context of convergence of broadcasting, telecommunications and information and communication technologies. In this regard, the project supports countries in developing strategies for using ICTs in knowledge acquisition and sharing, in particular for radio production and broadcasting. It makes local and often humble radios aware of ICTs as a tool for broadcasting and the need to adapt to a fast evolving media environment, with new applications, devices and formats in sight.

 The project also helps local radios build a technical platform that includes FM-broadcasting, mobile telephony and (when possible) Internet. Tools are made available to strengthen information and communication to and from the local radios. This will result in more qualified programming and local news outputs for poor people.

 Transparent and accountable financial systems are a necessary condition for local radios’ sustainability. Therefore, the project also focuses on building radios’ competence for financial planning and management.

This project is benefitting 32 local radios in seven Africa countries including Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia from Southern Africa.

Expected impact:

By the end of the project, local radios will be able to provide better social service and engage different sectors of the community in the debate of issues of local public concern. In this regard, the value of local programme broadcasting will have increased and made a difference in the lives of the poor. Local radios will use ICTs as a support for broadcasting, that is: they will be able to use Internet to report on specific topics, they will be able to integrate mobiles in media production and also consider a variety of technological variants. Local radios will also acquire financial management competencies.

This project is possible thanks to the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

For more information please visit the project website: https://en.unesco.org/radioict/home or contact: h.dlamini(at)unesco.org and c.mapfumo(at)unesco.org



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