The World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) has worked with its partners to mark World Radio Day, 13 February, since this venerable technology "guarantees space for ordinary people to have a public voice and to be heard by decision-makers."
The Toronto-based organisation noted that World Radio Day "seeks to raise awareness about the importance of radio, to facilitate access to information through radio and to enhance networking among broadcasters."
The Day was established by UNESCO in 2011, with the initial idea proposed from the Spanish Academy of Radio four years earlier.
In Sierra Leone, the Council of Churches operates Radio Shalom, for which WACC provides equipment, according to WACC Deputy Director of Programme Philip Lee. "Radio Shalom will ... broadcast debates on current affairs in which the public can phone in to ask questions. This is an election year and Radio Shalom will promote peace among people from different ethnic groups, regions and political persuasions," Lee wrote in an e-mail to ENInews. It will also offer a space for interfaith dialogue.
Radio Shalom has also been focusing on social issues affecting people with disabilities and women. "There will be special programmes highlighting child abuse and the role of parents, government and communities in improving the lives of children, especially the most vulnerable. Children themselves will have an opportunity to come to the radio and discuss their own issues especially those that have been abandoned by society and are still suffering from the trauma of the civil war," Lee wrote beforehand.
The council, which is a member of the Geneva-based World Council of Churches, lists communication as one of its five strategic directions as it seeks to build peace after Sierra Leone's 1991-2002 civil war.
WACC said its partners have pursued communication rights by struggling to change national legislation regarding access to the radio spectrum and licenses for community radio.
WACC itself has supported community radio under its communication development programmes. In addition to Sierra Leone, partners are currently establishing or strengthening community radio stations in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia, Burkina Faso and Mexico.
The World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters, a WACC partner, supports the establishment of a world wide community radio sector as one way of democratizing the media sector. It advocates for the right to communicate and promotes the community radio movement through networking and cooperation.
In 2011 WACC helped the Himalaya Trust in the hill state of Uttarakhand, India, to run a training course on programme content for community radio. Participants used radio drama to explore such issues as the impact of forest fires on the environment and agriculture, the need for educating girls, alcoholism and domestic violence.
WACC promotes communication as a basic human right for social change.
[With acknowledgements to ENInews. ENInews, formerly Ecumenical News International, is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]