To give the utmost benefit to the communities they serve community radio stations should have a social agenda and should never be motivated by making a profit. Whenever possible they should also engage communities to get involved in decision-making and to participate as much as they can in community events.
Community radio has the ability to reach out to remote villages which are discarded by commercial radio for not being profitable enough. It gives these small rural communities a chance to learn and receive education on every manner of subject. It also can reward the citizens by broadcasting traditional music and items of cultural interest.
Cote d’Ivoire Community Radio
A listener in Mali to one of the Cote d’Ivoire community radio stations stated that the broadcasting of local radio had changed everybody’s lives in the community. We get information on cotton farming, and we can send the station news to inform our friends and relatives about important events, and also listen to the traditional music from our villages.The radio station in question was Radio Benso and has been broadcasting to this mainly rural cotton growing belt since 1999. Radio Benso is one of four community radio stations that were set up under the South Rural Radio Revival Project. These four community radio stations now broadcast to over half a million people and have become an integral part of the development of the communities it serves.
Mali has a particularly strong community radio network, one of the most developed in Africa. Since the demise of the former government in 1991 it opened up the ability for new stations to form and broadcast, and today Mali has over eighty community radio stations serving the country.
Engaging Ordinary People
Community and independent radio give the ordinary person a chance to be heard. And community radio stations can be set up with almost any agenda whatsoever. For instance, in Zambia there has been a community radio project that has been launched with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The radio station broadcasts information how to adopt safe sex practices, including safer birth health control in a highly popular program In Our Village. Local midwives in the rural communities are now taking more precautions when they assist in childbirth and following best practices that have been discussed on the radio by medical professionals.
Empowering the People
We have seen how much that radio can assist in developing whole communities. But it is also key to empowering the individual. Projects run by radio stations either on-air or out in the community can bring new opportunities for people to learn new skills and to develop personally. Knowledge is power and learning a new skill or trade could lead to better jobs with higher pay. It can improve farmers skills to boost his crop yield, or train technicians how to work on new technologies. These personal skills also benefit the local community as a whole. Community radio in developing countries is a godsend at every level. It brings communities together, teaches them valuable skills, and imparts vital emergency information completely free