Today is UNESCO’s World Radio Day, and we participate at the Inter-American Foundation (IAF) by celebrating our grantee partners whose grassroots efforts fuel change in their communities using radio as their medium.
We live in an age of media, where information is at our fingertips. Whether you get access on your phone, on your computer, in the car or from reading a newspaper, you likely come across daily instructions to visit a website, follow a social media feed or tune in to a can’t-miss program on television. How many videos do you watch online in a day? It’s easy to take for granted the variety and ease of so much information.
So it may be difficult to believe that 3.9 billion people in the world don’t have access to the Internet, according to the United Nation’s International Telecommunications Union. UNESCO started celebrating World Radio Day in 2012 to honor the way “radio is uniquely positioned to bring communities together and foster positive dialogue for change.”
Radio success from MINGA Peru
Last week we had a chance to sit down and talk to the executive director of one of our grantee partner alumni to discuss the importance of radio in the communities where her organization works. Eliana Elias of MINGA Peru told us:
“We use the radio to have impact with the public. For 18 years Minga Peru has had a program on the air called 'Bienvenida la salud' ['Welcome Health']. The program airs three times per week, and the audience is basically rural communities and indigenous farmers of the Peruvian Amazon."
MINGA has received more than 30,000 letters from listeners over the years. The letters arrive by boat and sometimes take an entire week to travel to their destination in Iquitos, the capital in the region of Peru where the program airs. Elias attributes the success of the program to listeners’ ability to hear their own voices, their own stories and their own worries read during the program from the letters they send.
On the importance of radio in general, Elias says:
“If radio didn't exist, millions of the most vulnerable, geographically and economically isolated people would lose their only mode of communication — and sometimes their only mode of participation and of feeling part of a nation or country, of feeling like citizens. The difference between life and death for many communities can be a clear and simple message over the radio.”
Our grantee partners use radio to fuel change in their communities.
Below are some of the active radio-related projects that we support in Latin America and the Caribbean.
JCS uses community radio to convey information to the residents of Maya villages, encourage traditional forms of decision-making and consensus-building, further the participation of Maya women in community life and bring more visibility to the efforts of the Maya people to improve their well-being. You can visit their website to learn more about their grassroots initiatives.
TEL brings a long history of using theater as a tool for social organizing and peace-building in one of the country’s most conflict-ridden zones. TEL is proposing to expand its reach and impact by using an online modality called radioteatro. In the current context of Colombia’s ongoing peace-building strategy, it is especially important to us to support organizations that are already building peace and are trusted by their local communities. You can listen to TEL’s radioteatro programs (in Spanish) on their website.
MBYL works to enable 22 community radio stations to develop better programming, to educate the public on legislation proposed to regulate the operation of community radio stations and to inform listeners of their rights as citizens.
OYE uses its IAF funds to improve its training in the arts, publication, radio broadcasts via the Internet, internship opportunities for young people with media organizations and the skills of its staff. This project demonstrates that developing job and leadership skills for young people can provide alternatives to leaving their communities and other opportunities to productive lives. Learn more about OYE’s grassroots development projects on its website.
Asociación Peruana Mujer y Familiar (APMF) in Peru
ADC produces a nation-wide community radio campaign and hosts a national event, “Disoñando un Campo para la Paz” to highlight and promote the successes of farmer organizations and their work towards peace-building in Colombia at the community level. They provide a space to create alliances amongst farmer organizations and community media. You can learn more about their grassroots projects on their website.
AUGE offers training in job skills to young Mexicans between the ages of 16 and 22 from 40 communities in six municipalities surrounding Xalapa, Veracruz. In 2006, the community radio program “La Enzalada,” managed by and for young people, received an international award from UNICEF recognizing the excellence of its journalism focused on discrimination against children carrying the HIV virus.