THE United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) yesterday shared guidelines with Community radio stations on how to access funding from the organisation during the launch of the Community Radio Network launch.
The event was held at the George Hotel in Manzini with the assistance of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, Swaziland.
The Community Radio Network was introduced as an association of people from various regions in Swaziland who were campaigning to bring community radio stations to the country. UNESCO, through its representative Associate Project Officer Lydia Gachungi, expressed excitement at the initiative by the stations to come together and forming a network to advocate for the bringing of radio to communities in the country.
“Swaziland is one of the few countries without a vibrant community radio sector. It is therefore heart-warming to see so many parties working together in ensuring that this project is a success,” she revealed. She mentioned that UNESCO always endeavoured to work closely with government in those countries where they were required to assist in establishing community radio stations.
She stated that UNESCO supported community radio initiatives and would continue to garner their support. “If this platform is used correctly, there is no reason why government would not also lend a hand in supporting and assisting such initiatives and ensuring that they are sustained,” she added.
She stressed in her presentation that the community initiatives should not have any political or economical influence.
“UNESCO recognises the importance of media pluralism and diversity of content and notes that community radio stations gave a voice to the voiceless,” she said.
…community radio stations owned by community
COMMUNITY radio stations are community owned entities managed by the same communities that they serve.
Currently the Communications Bill of 1962 does not provide a legal framework for community radio stations to operate within the Swazi community. The Swaziland Community Radio Network is now advocating for the passing of the Broadcasting Bill which will enable the Ministry of Information, Communications Technology to issue broadcasting licenses. Community radio stations currently within the network:
1. Matsanjeni Community radio
2. Ngwemphisi Community radio
3. Lubombo Community radio
4. University of Swaziland Campus radio
5. Voice of the Church
6. Seventh Day Adventist Church
Guidelines to be followed
GACHUNGI further shared guidelines to be followed by those who intended to request for funding from the organisation.
She made it clear that UNESCO only funded community radio stations that were for the community and emphasised the fact that all revenue made through the radio stations was expected to be reinvested back into the community Guidelines to assist community radio stations that intend to seek funding from UNESCO:
Only community radio stations owned by the communities themselves, and not individuals, could benefit from UNESCO funding
Radio stations were expected to be managed by those less privileged like the youth and women
Community radio stations should be non-profit oriented
They must represent the needs of the community
Content focuses should be on the needs of the community
All programming must have the voice of the community within
Presenters should fully understand that they were just facilitators and not force their personal opinions on communities listening in.