United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) says community radio stations in the country have a bigger role to play in development activities as such need to empowered with requisite knowledge to be self- sustained.
Acting Executive Secretary for UNESCO, Emmanuel Kondowe said community radio stations should equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to take an active role in promoting social, cultural and education gains for community members in the country.
He was speaking after opening a capacity building workshop for community radio stations on sustainability mechanisms.
“Community radio stations have a crucial role to play in development activities of the country because they create space and act as outlets for cultural, voices and opinions excluded elsewhere mainly due to congestion of programmes for radios with a wider coverage,” Kondowe said.
He said community radios should provide space for the audience to engage with what they broadcast and production processes leading to those broadcasts.
Kondowe urged community radio station managers to empower their catchment communities to understand their rights and responsibilities in ensuring development of sustainability plans.
“Community radios could be more sustainable when there is a sense of ownership within the community where governance structures are represented and processes are democratic,” he added.
Kondowe encouraged community radio stations to uphold principles of transparency and accountability to generate trust from community they serve which would in turn attract support from their audiences and other partners.
The Executive Secretary emphasized on the importance of ensuring that community radios were self- sustained.
Programme Manager for Nkhotakota Community Radio Station, Edward Kwacha thanked UNESCO for organizing the training workshop, saying it would empower the radio stations to share experiences and challenges and also equip them with knowledge on to sustain themselves.
He pointed out that the major setback to community radio stations was the issue of funding which has an effect on the daily operations of the institutions.
Kwacha expressed optimism that through the training they would acquire skills on how to write successful proposals.
The community radio stations which took part in the training which covered other gender related topics in radio programme were Nkhotakota, Dzimwe from Mangochi and Nyanthepa from Nsanje.
The training is part of UNESCO’s media development project which identified four areas requiring intervention on the challenges and obstacles to minimize vulnerability and to ensure sustainable functioning of community radio stations in the country which include a strong community ownership, effective training, capacity and technical sustainability systems.