30 community radios are part of a project to support the most vulnerable groups of listeners in their fight against poverty. Involved are 30 stations from four countries (Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Timor-Leste), from which the directors and two programme staff each are going to receive training. The topic of poverty reduction is included as a cross-cutting theme in all qualification measures which are also designed to increase the sustainability of the stations at the same time.
During the Corona crisis, the "chronically" poor have been joined by a large number of " newly" poor. Millions of households have slid further down the economic ladder, getting into debt, or depleting their savings, creating an additional poverty trap in the long run. With the war in Ukraine, the prices of energy and basic foodstuffs have risen further, exacerbating the living conditions of the poorest. Research institutes point out that despondency and pessimism are rampant, and thus people lack the strength to tackle change in the absence of a supportive regulatory environment that encourages community engagement.
The stronger "culture of listening" by policy makers that is called for can be generated particularly by community radios that, as part of the communities, have direct access to the local population.
To start with, community mappings were carried out in the transmission area of each station. A guide to community mapping was developed specifically for this project, providing radio programme makers with a simple tool to understand the needs, aspirations, and preferences of their listeners. The first mappings were carried out in cooperation with local NGOs whose work focuses on poverty reduction and who can therefore also become resource partners for the radios. They accompanied research and focus groups with local key informants to identify the poorest among the listenership and took the lead in subsequent focus group discussions with community members. The results will contribute towards producing radio programmes with the participation of the target community, which will have a significant say and influence over radio programmes and the choice of contents. The methodology and experiences of the first 30 mappings will be presented in a comprehensive Handbook and a small pocket version that can be taken into the field as a concise guide for future mappings.
Qualification of production staff
A first online training cycle for the 60 producers included lectures on the causes and manifestations of poverty, and practical exercises, e.g., the optimal use of Digital Work Stations (DWS), better management of all stages of the production process, successful strategies on social media. All 60 participants were invited to an in-person masterclass, the specific content was determined based on a needs assessment among producers and directors of the stations. The training took place in parallel in four languages. After each training cycle, two programmes are produced per radio, based on the results of the mapping. During the production phase, mentors support the radio staff.
Training of trainers
From the group of radio journalists who have participated in webinars and face-to-face training, 12 are selected for a Training of Trainers (ToT) seminar. To test the newly acquired knowledge in practice, the newcomers will conduct two training courses. During preparation and implementation, they will be supervised by a mentor. In this way, a small pool of trainers is to be created which will be available to the associations of community radios in each participating country. Thus, a nucleus of trainers with an understanding of the community radio sector is established.
Training for Management and Leadership
In a five-day classroom training, the directors of the stations will work on topics aiming to increase the social, organisational, and economic sustainability of their stations. They will discuss the future of radio and new forms of reception. During the workshop, the radio directors receive personal "work packages" based on the main challenges of their stations, which they work through in the following weeks and present and discuss in four online workshops. During the elaboration, they receive mentoring support.
The project is implemented in cooperation with AMARC Asia Pacific, the regional association of community broadcasters based in Kathmandu, Nepal. It is financially supported by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).