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Community radio project - Mongolia

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The purpose of this project is to build the capacity of ethnic minorities in Northern 'aimags' of Mongolia to produce and exchange information of local importance in local languages, as well as to establish a permanent communication channel between these communities and the rest of the country. It aims at enhancing the role of the media in promoting multilingualism, cultural diversity and indigenous knowledge exchange. It will focus on two ethnic minority groups that live side by side in the Khövsgöl Lake area: the Tsaatan and the Darkhad. These groups have been chosen because of their alarming demographical situation and the very real threat of cultural extinction that they are facing. Extreme poverty of the target groups resulted in a high illiteracy rate, poor health conditions and other signs of increasing backwardness. Another challenge is posed by the landscape that makes wireless communication as well as mobile communication stations the only available options to keep these populations in perpetual movement connected to the rest of the country. The overall aim of the project is threefold: (i) indigenous production and dissemination of area-specific development information; (ii) connecting remote communities to the rest of the country through the establishment of a viable information channel and information production facilities; (iii) recording and preserving the Tsaatan and Darkhad unique cultural heritage through the media.

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The Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO partnered with the Reindeer Foundation and the Press Institute of Mongolia for the implementation of this project. The Reindeer Foundation has obtained a license together with radio frequency for the establishment of the community radio in Rinchenlkhumbe Soum of Khövsgöl province. The license was issued by the Communications Regulatory Commission of Mongolia after several months of application processing. Mr. C.A. Arnaldo, project consultant, has conducted an assessment mission to the project locations and provided recommendations on the launching and configurations of the community radio and multimedia centers. The Reindeer Foundation, the Mongolia Press Institute and other volunteer media organizations concerned by the fate of Darkhad and Tsaatan communities, joined efforts in completing the on-spot feasibility study and providing topographical maps of the area and other required parameters. The project stakeholders established a detailed action plan as well the final configuration for setting up and operating the radio station and the multimedia centers. They conducted a competitive bidding for the acquisition of necessary facilities and equipments, identified the most disadvantaged Tsaatan and Darkhad families (22 Tsaatan and 39 Darkhad) to benefit from free radio receivers as well as the staff for the radio and centers? operation and management. Detailed training plans for the radio station and multimedia centers personnel have been approved by ACI/BEJ. The project's implementation is still ongoing; no concrete conclusion can be drawn at this stage. (Jan 2006)

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