UNICEF celebrates the success of Purulia’s community radio initiative

ST Bureau ; Kolkata, 30 January: Nityananda Janavani a community FM radio in Purulia district has effectively been able to create awareness about child rights, reaching out to more 150,000 tribal people in association with UNICEF.(United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund ).

“While West Bengal has progressed well on several social development areas, we are still working together with the Government to ensure that the best possible services and information reach even the hardest-to-reach pockets. Community-based media can be very effective in such places, where other media might have limited or no access, particularly for understanding their local communication needs,” said Mohammad Mohiuddin, Chief of UNICEF in West Bengal at a programme here today to mark the occasion.

According to him,UNICEF had been supporting Nityananda Janavani in partnership with Manbhum Ananda Ashram Nitayananda Trust, a local NGO in Purulia since 2010 for establishing this community radio for reaching out to the tribal blocks. Nityananda Janavani 91.2 FM has since then been producing radio programmes in Santhali and Kurmali languages besides Bengali, which are spoken by the communities around.

What makes this community radio initiative unique is that the team has ensured active participation by local communities throughout and integrated their insights, experiences, and local knowledge in their programmes. It is not surprising that this community radio has gained popularity among the local people, Mohiuddin said.

Some of these community volunteers from Purulia and other districts of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha were present at today’s event and shared their journey with community radios and how they evolved over the last decade.

Till date, the Nityananda Janavani volunteers have created a huge bank of radio episodes of over 500 hours and are sustaining this initiative currently without any financial support from UNICEF and have mobilized resources locally with their own efforts.

In a country like India community-based and community-led communication initiatives will continue to play significant roles in transforming social norms and local knowledge. Hence, UNICEF supported this initiative so that their learning, observations and findings can help other states and communities to design and implement similar community radio initiatives,Mohiuddin stated further and added thart UNICEF and MANT had released a report capturing the journey and success of Nityananda Janavani .