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Unesco worries over community radios

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United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has bemoaned operational challenges and skills capacity gaps being experienced in the country’s community radio stations which are affecting their major role of enabling isolated communities across Malawi to voice their own issues and concerns.

Unesco Acting Executive Secretary, Emmanuel Kondowe, said on Tuesday that the two areas are a cause for worry because they directly affect the radio stations’ impact on communities they serve.

“Challenges facing community radios are cross-cutting. Most of them don’t have funding for their operations, electricity and also struggle to find means to travel around.

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“Mostly the staff is trained on the job raising concerns on skills. However, this borders on the approach taken as most of the staff is draw from the community they serve and skill is mostly not a prerequisite. We, however, can appreciate the environment community radios are working in,” Kondowe said.

He said with limited knowledge and resources, the staff are able to communicate and produce programmes that serve people within their catchment areas.

Kondowe was speaking when Unesco in collaboration with Media Institute of Southern Africa Malawi Chapter (Misa Malawi) conducted a capacity building workshop for community radio stations in the Northern Region.

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Speaking in an interview, one of the facilitators, Misa Malawi Chairperson, Teresa Ndanga, said such workshops give chance to old and newly established community radio stations to share experience.

“We are partnering different organisations in an effort to build capacity of community radio stations. We are looking at a situation where established community radio stations can come to meet new ones to share experience and see how they can sustain activities so that none dies down,” Ndanga said.

The workshop whose participants were drawn from Chirundu, Likoma and Chizumulu and Usisya community radio stations centred on sustainable running of the radios, writing winning project proposals and knowledge sharing on gender sensitive programme production.

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