Voice of the Coastal People
In a country like Bangladesh, Community Radio can be an effective platform to raise the voices of the poor, to enhance people’s capacity of claiming the legitimate rights and to eradicate discriminations. Community radio can play a significant role at the grassroots level for rural development. For instance, issues of poverty, agriculture, gender inequality, education, social problems among others could be the focus for programming. Radio activities can make a significant change in a community’s life.
In last February, 2015 COAST has established a community radio named Radio Meghna”-99.0 FM www.radiomeghna.net.The radio is being run in Charfession upazila of Bhola district; a largest island in Bangladesh. The radio was inaugurated by the honorable Minster for the ministry of Information Hasanul Haq Inu.
The inhabitants at 17 km radius area of the radio station can listen programs. This area covers the community of almost 18 unions of Charfession upazila out of 19. About 400000 people can listen various programs from this radio. The radio has drawn the attention of the community people. They are now getting the development messages through community radio.
The development messages are disseminated through Radio Meghna to the community, mostly in local language for increasing their knowledge and skills.
One of the major professions of the community people in Charfasion area is fishing; an important number of people are involved in fishing. They are facing various challenges; especially they are not getting the weather signal in time. Besides, the fisher folk communities have a very little knowledge on sustainable fisheries, fishing laws, rights, rules and regulations on access to the fishing grounds. The Middlemen and influential people exploit fishermen in various ways; fisher people also don’t have appropriate access to their rights and finance. They also have little knowledge on government services, their access to those services are also limited. The program in Community radio Meghna helps them to enhance their capacity in facing these challenges. Radio Meghan also helps them to get weather forecast regularly.
The Farmers of Charfession are also suffering from various challenges. One of the major challenges is knowledge gap. Land grabbing is common in Charfasson, excessive use of pesticides are other problems that the farmers are facing. Unavailability of linkages among the farmers and different service providers is also another serious problem. Radio Meghna broadcasts regular program focusing the challenges of the farmers, way out of those problems, there are programs with the participation of farmers. There are also some programs with the participation of the service providers. The farmers are getting the solution about technical problems through their direct questions to the respective technical professionals from the government as the radio broadcasts the live programs with the government technical professionals.
Community Radio Meghna is trying to empower the women specially the adolescents in the community. The dropped out adolescent girls of 12-18 years of age are the future mothers so if they are given proper education and awareness on reproductive health and hygiene along with skill training on different IGAs then they will be a productive force in the family. Moreover an adolescent can bear the fruits of education throughout their remaining long life covering both her parental and conjugal family. Radio Meghna has special programs for them.
The Community people of Charfasion upazila clearly lag behind in getting appropriate health care. It is because of unavailability of appropriate infrastructure facilities and lack of proper utilization of the services already available. As most of the people are living in remote island areas, it is really hard to get primary health care. Radio Meghna is broadcasting regular program on primary health care. People are also learning the information on healthcare service centers and the service provisions.
Radio Meghna is running with six staffs as Station Manager, Assistant Station Manager, News producer, Producer program, Technical Officer and Editor. There are 20 volunteers and most of them are adolescent girls who have come from very poor families.
COAST manages the operational cost of Radio Meghna from the surplus of its progressive MF program and it has got loan support from PKSF to meet the establishment cost.
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