14.08.2012 -

Empowering Indigenous People Through Media: International Day of the World’s Indigenous People 2012

@Khut Sornnimul - Radio Journalist Training in Mondulkiri

On August 9 2012, the celebration of the International World’s Indigenous People’s Day was organized at the UN Headquarters under the theme of “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices” which underscores the important role that media plays in supporting indigenous people’s cultures, values and development. Media utilized by indigenous peoples, in its traditional and new media forms, can open up new channels to promote their cultures and languages, to transmit their knowledge, and to represent their own views at the local and national level.

In Cambodia, approximately 1.4% of the population of 14 million report an indigenous language as their mother tongue with the majority of them living in the Northeastern highland areas of Ratanakiri, Mondulkiri, Stung Treng, Kratie and Preah Vihear. UNESCO Phnom Penh’s activities with indigenous peoples are framed by its missions to protect and promote cultural diversity, encourage intercultural dialogue and enhance linkages between culture and development. The organization is thus actively involved in strengthening cooperation for the solution of problems faced by indigenous peoples in such areas as communication and information, culture, development, and education.

Since 2009, the UNESCO Phnom Penh Office has partnered with the Ministry of Information and the Provincial Radio Station in Ratanakiri to support an indigenous language radio programme. The programme features content in four indigenous languages – Kreung, Tampuen, Jarai and Brao - and represents the only initiative of its kind in Cambodia. The IP radio project has focused on building the capacity of the young indigenous people to connect with their own communities, and on identifying and producing localized content, in order to provide a platform for minority groups to participate in society.   In 2012, the programme has extended its air time due to popular demand from the indigenous communities.

In September 2012, two major Communication and Information projects will be underway in Cambodia, within the framework of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), a multilateral forum in the UNESCO system designed to mobilize the international community to promote media development in developing countries. In Cambodia, the first project, Capacity building for local radio staff to produce community programmes, will be implemented in collaboration with the Department of Media and Communication at the Royal University of Phnom Penh. The project seeks to equip and upgrade the skills of the existing provincial radio staff  in Cambodia to enable them to produce sustainable community-based radio programmes serving the eight provinces of Pursat, Takeo, Svay Rieng, Preah Sihanouk, Kampong Thom, Kratie, Pailin and Ratanakiri. A second project, Sustaining Community and Media Participation in Promoting Freedom of Expression in Cambodia, will be implemented simultaneously. The aim of this project is to focus on addressing the need for training of citizen journalists, particularly those who are female and from ethnic minority backgrounds, in the three rural target communities of Preah Vihear, Mondulkiri, Ratanakiri. At the completion of the project, at least 50 news reports from the trainees will be broadcasted on national and subnational radio stations. Most importantly, these projects aim to create new networks for radio journalists and to bridge the media outlets and the indigenous communities so that the voice of the indigenous people can be heard both at the local and the national level.

 “The media are a key to unlocking the visions of indigenous peoples of sustainable development. We must harness this power for sustainable development for all,” stated Irina Bokova, the UNESCO Director General on the occasion of the Day. The power of the media in shaping the lives of individuals and communities is widely acknowledged in Cambodia. Communication and media are key in raising awareness, sharing knowledge and supporting a broader debate on indigenous knowledge, culture and values, all of which are conducive to more effective policies and actions.

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