Radio Bundelkhand – Apna Radio Apni Baatein

Community feedback session with Radio Bundelkhand

Community radio is an effective communication tool that helps in creating an impact on the community in terms of development. It broadcasts materials in the local language that are acceptable and relatable to the community members.

Bundelkhand, a water-scarce region, has been utilising this power of mass media through its radio station called Radio Bundelkhand, an initiative of Development Alternatives and Bundelkhand community residing in the Niwari district, Madhya Pradesh. Set up in 2008, Radio Bundelkhand is a community radio that now has emerged as a people’s radio station that provides them with a platform to air their aspirations and concerns and showcase their talent. Radio Bundelkhand is the first community radio station in Madhya Pradesh and second in India. It is a participatory and collaborative approach to empower and build consensus for change.

Being collaborative in its approach, Radio Bundelkhand uses the power of the local community, where the people come forward to design and develop entertainment and informative radio programmes according to their needs. Radio reporters are selected from within the community and trained in radio programming and broadcasting. There are live phone-in programmes and recorded programmes to encourage rural participation. Currently, Radio Bundelkhand directly covers 150 villages, reaching out to over 400,000 people of Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh and Tikamgarh, Madhya Pradesh, India, through its 11 hours of broadcast and indirectly reaches out to lakhs of people through its mobile application. The themes covered through the radio station include agriculture, health and nutrition, climate change, sports, news, entertainment, etc.

‘Shubh Kal’, a programme and a local people’s movement towards resilient futures, is one of the longest and most successful running campaigns of Radio Bundelkhand, which aims to create awareness and design, implement and disseminate knowledge on climate change and related issues in the Bundelkhand region. The Development Alternatives created this programme as a response to the climate change issues faced by the communities in the Bundelkhand region.

The programme has improved, connected and empowered communication between the farming community, scientists and policymakers using the community radio as an interface tool and the local media as an amplifier. The Shubh Kal Initiative has become a programme and campaign that uses ‘Communication for Development’ or C4D methodologies to build climate and livelihood resilience across rural communities in the central Indian Bundelkhand region. UNITAR, SDC, CDKN, UNESCO, UKAID, NABARAD, Ford Foundation, La Caixa, Loreal Foundation, Azim Premji, etc., have supported the ‘Shubh Kal’ programme.

Using the platform and power of this programme, our female radio jockey today is not only the voice of climate change in Bundelkhand but was also selected as 17 among climate leaders in India by the UN in 2020.  In 2021, she was selected for National Geographic’s One for Change campaign, in which only 10 people from all over India were selected. Since then, she has been featured in many documentaries. She was also invited as a speaker at the Dharitri Youth Conclave in Odisha in 2022.

Today, Radio Bundelkhand has become a catalyst for climate change adaptation and other development information in the region, transforming actions and decisions at the grassroots towards a more climate-resilient and sustainable society.

The views expressed in the article are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Development Alternatives.

This blog first appeared as an editorial in Development Alternatives Newsletter January, 2024

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