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Community radio in Malawi: an IPDC success story

09-07-2007 (Harare)
Community radio in Malawi: an IPDC success story
Nkhota-kota community radio
© UNESCO
Three years after its establishment, the community radio in Nkhota-kota, Malawi’s central region, has become the one that everybody listens to in Ntchisi, Dowa, Salima, Kasungu and Nkhata Bay.
The radio was launched in 2003 with an initial grant of US$20,000 from UNESCO's International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC). It is broadcasting on FM 101.9 and its listeners call it fondly radio KK.

An opinion poll conducted recently in the district showed that, in spite of more powerful signals from neighbouring Tanzania and Mozambique, the people of the lakeshore have made this radio their favourite. Medical personnel, teachers and traders say that they listen to the radio until it switches off for the night and often use it as an alarm to wake up in the morning. There is hunger for information in the community and the radio is an absolute need.

For the district Commissioner of Nkhota-kota, the radio is the medium of dialogue with the citizens. He is very much satisfied that the radio staff filled an information vacuum in the district. "Now the citizens are aware of what we are doing and they constantly give us feedback", he says.

In order to strengthen the interaction with the audience, the radio management initiated listeners clubs. Those groups are encouraged to produce programmes on any pressing issue, share it with the community, suggest solutions and ask for inputs from the wider audience. It makes the community very happy, because everybody can contribute to a faster solution of common problems.

One of the major challenges the radio station faces today is its transformation to a fully fledged community multimedia centre, which will enable the community to have an access to Internet and to use e-mail. A library service is also planned.

It is remarkable how a small IPDC contribution have triggered all this. Credit should go to the volunteers who run the radio. Some of them have refused more lucrative offers of employment in urban commercial radios. For them community broadcasting is a calling.
Related themes/countries

      · Malawi
      · Community Media
      · News Archives: 2007
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