Poor and marginalized communities remain highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. They lack both the economic and social capacity to deal with climate induced stresses which increase their vulnerability. However, making them understand the implications of climate change and its impact is difficult, particularly in countries where the literacy rate is low.
Community radio is a valuable means to reach vulnerable groups like women and marginalized communities including the poor as a medium to raise the level of awareness about the adverse impacts of climate change.
Institute for Social and Environmental Transition-Nepal (ISET-Nepal) is a think tank based in Kathmandu that conducts academic studies related to climate change, food security and other developmental issues.
In 2009, ISET-Nepal conceived, developed and produced a radio drama called Jalvayu Puran (climate story) with the aim of transmitting 27 episodes (30 minutes each) through community radio stations. In the drama, puran is recited by a dalit in place of a Pandit of higher caste. Efforts were made to capture the diversity of people in terms of gender, caste and languages spoken in different ecological regions of Nepal. The objective was to disseminate knowledge on climate change to people in the language they understand. The drama was broadcast over several community radios across Nepal at different times.
Jalvayu Puran began a process. Over time, ISET-Nepal learned that, to get the community to change its attitudes, behaviors and develop adaptive strategies, capacities of community radio managers need to be enhanced. Station managers can act as a catalyst to highlight local problems and promote discussions.
In 2014, ISET-Nepal partnered with a community radio network to broadcast the drama and build the capacity of 17 community radios across the country to design their own radio programme. A training module was designed to help station managers understand and identify indicators of climate change. It is anticipated that locally developed radio programmes will draw attention of local stakeholders and help get their support on issues of climate change.
A template to record local environmental changes was designed and provided to the radios. These filled templates and community prepared episodes of the programme are being analyzed to glean lessons for its climate change research programme.
These programmes have received overwhelming responses from the listeners, who suggest that the drama changed their behaviours. It motivated them to pursue environment friendly livelihoods. ISET-Nepal is currently planning to scale up the activity across Nepal and involve more community radio stations in the process.
Kanchan Mani Dixit