Radio for Peace Network promoting peace in South Sudan
“We are the instrument of peace,” urged Mr Norbert Otieno, Chairperson of Radio for Peace Network in South Sudan, during a training workshop involving fourteen radio station managers from around the country held from 21 to 22 September 2016. “We have the right tool, which is the media, in our possession and we need to use our radios to promote peace by broadcasting peace messages daily and three peace programs weekly.” He went on to stress the importance of using radio as a platform for peace, especially now that the country is urging all the citizens to live together in harmony and stop fighting.
These words were echoed by the radio station managers throughout the workshop, which was organised by UNESCO and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to build the capacities of radio station managers in the areas of conflict-sensitive reporting, peacebuilding, reconciliation and the Small Arms and Light Weapons Control Act. This support is also aimed at mainstreaming the new concept of Communicating with Communities (CwC) approaches, by ensuring that local people have a community-based communication platform, for dialogue and contribution to homegrown solutions for peaceful co-existence.
During the opening of the event, Mr Victor Bullen, Director of the South Sudan News Agency at the Ministry of Information, Communication, Technology and Postal Services, stressed the need to promote a culture of peace and reconciliation in the country. He said that the most effective tool that would make it a reality is radio. “A radio is cheap, light and can be moved anywhere at any time,” emphasised Mr Bullen.
In addition, Mr Bullen advised the station managers to make use of the knowledge and skills acquired from the workshop to assist people in overcoming the trauma caused by war. He also called on the station managers not to forget the importance of using local languages as they package their programmes, as these can be a more effective means of communication.
Mr Lealem Berhanu Dinku, Senior Governance Advisor with UNDP, reminded the station managers of the extremely important role they play in the development and peace-building process in the country. He described radio as “a crucial medium for communication”, stating that it has “the power to bring people together, He believes it is “the only platform available that gives a voice to the voiceless, promoting peace and dialogue. Lasting peace can only be achieved through commitment and dedication of relevant stakeholders,” said Mr Dinku.
Speaking on behalf of the UNESCO Officer-in-charge, Mr Saluwen Yoasa Sanya, UNESCO National Programme Officer, greatly appreciated the new partnership between UNESCO and UNDP, in the spirit of United Nations in South Sudan delivering as one. He further encouraged the radio station managers to be the pillars promoting peace and reconciliation in the communities. “With your work we may see peace in South Sudan sooner than later,” Mr Sanya said. “The peace messages you disseminate can help people to co-exist peacefully and reconcile, without reconciliation there cannot be any peaceful co-existence.”
UNESCO, with the support of the European Union, has supported South Sudan radio stations in establishing the Radio for Peace Network (RaPNET), bringing together twelve community radio stations. In a new partnership with UNDP, the Radio for Peace Network has been expanded to include South Sudan Radio and Eye Radio, which have a wider reach across the country.
UNESCO and UNDP are also jointly strengthening the Network in South Sudan through advanced training, to strengthen the capacity of the radio stations in providing platforms for inter-communal and intercultural dialogue on reconciliation and peaceful co-existence, as well as the dissemination of messages of peace through a mobile phone application and by providing equipment for the radio stations and their women and youth listener clubs. An award ceremony in recognition of the best “peace correspondents” is also scheduled before the end of the year.
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