Community radio coverage doubles, evaluation highlights challenges

05 Feb 2014

Vientiane 5th February 2014 – The community radio coverage has doubled in the past year in Lao PDR, with four stations now broadcasting to more than 110,000 people in Xieng Khuang and Sekong provinces. However, a recent evaluation has raised concerns about the quality of the current programming.

Stakeholders gathered to the Mercure hotel in Vientiane today to review the progress of the Community Participation and Communication Support initiative, launched in 2011 and supported by the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) and Oxfam.

The review meeting was chaired by H.E. Savankhone Razmountry, Vice Minister Information, Culture and Tourism, and co-chaired by Ms. Sudha Gooty, Deputy Resident Representative a.i. of the UNDP, with participants from central and local levels of the Government, development partners, community radio volunteers as well as representatives of the civil society and relevant communities.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Razmountry acknowledged the achievements of the initiative and its “significant contribution to the development in the country”, while urging everyone to work together to resolve the current issues the programme is facing.

Ms. Gooty of UNDP applauded the commitment of the community volunteers as well as the local authorities in making the project successful. She called for more learning opportunities for the volunteer broadcasters: “The idea of establishing a resource centre that can facilitate regular training and capacity building of volunteers needs to be urgently implemented”.

The overall objective of the programme is to ensure people in the rural areas have increased access to information on aspects that will help in improving their quality of life. Four more community radio stations are to be set up this year, bringing the total number to eight.

“Given that this is the final year of implementation of this phase of the project, it is important to think about sustainability and how we can institutionalize the model as we go forward”, Ms. Gooty reminded all participants. She suggested that innovative partnerships including those with the private sector may be a way forward in ensuring the future of the programme.  

Community radios allow people from remote areas, especially the poor and those from ethnic minorities to gain greater access to information as well as more opportunities to participate in planning and decision making in their communities. The four currently broadcasting stations in Laos are located in Khoun and Nonghet districts of Xiengkhuang province, and in Thateng and Dakcheung districts of Sekong province. Two stations are currently being built in Houn and Namor districts of Oudomxay province, with the locations for the remaining two to be confirmed. The stations are run by volunteers from the local communities and broadcast programmes in seven ethnic languages as well as in Lao.  

More than half of the households in the Lao PDR possess a radio transistor, making radio the single most important form of mass communication in the country.

Contact Information

UNDP: Mr. Vilaykham Lasasimma, Programme Officer
Tel: 021 267 783, vilaykham.lasasimma@undp.org

MICT: Mr. Bounhap Souligno, CPCS Programme Manager Deputy Director General, Mass Media Department, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICT)
Tel: 021-254 601, cpcs.programme@gmail.com