Enhancing People's Participation through Community Radio

Enhancing People's Participation Through Community Radio


Community Radio volunteers from various ethnic groups in Nonghet, Xieng Khouang Province. Photo: UNDP Lao PDR


Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, certain output level results were not achieved as planned due to limitations in travel between provinces, and the delay in adapting working methods to online formats at provincial and district level, with many communities requiring investment in ICT equipment. Some activities were reprogrammed with others combined in adapting to the COVID-19 response and recovery context, which helped to enhance the impact of the project during this difficult period.  

As the previous project came to an end and to strengthen a collective impetus for greater public participation the new phase of support embarks on a two-fold task: it aims to secure a roadmap to full sustainability through established local ownership of existing community radios, possibly new ones thanks to additional and innovative partnership to extend the broadcasting coverage to more areas including underrepresented ethnic groups living in remote high-risk border districts in particular.


Citizens’ access to information and ability to express their opinions play an important role in the national development process. However, especially rural illiterate ethnic communities living below the poverty threshold often face challenges in participating in the dialogue. To support inclusive development and community awareness, UNDP and the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICT) established the first community radio station in Khoun District, Xieng Khouang province in 2007. The bottom-up, two-way communication approach of community radio has been providing a platform for local people – including the marginalized and most vulnerable – to receive information relevant to their needs and interests, express their thoughts and issues, share knowledge, validate their culture and as a result, make informed decisions. The innovative community radio project has then been extended to twelve priority districts reaching out to around 600,000 people in their own ethnic languages, in rural and remote areas.

Major Achievements/ Objectives: 

  • Community Radios (CRs) expanded to 12 stations in seven provinces including: Khoun and Nonghed Stations (Xiengkhouang Province), Namor and  Houn Stations (Oudomxay Province), Thateng and Dukcheung Stations (Sekong Province), Lakhonpheng and Ta-Oi Stations (Salavan Province),  Khop Stations (Xayabouly Province), Nakai and Mahaxay Stations (Khammuane Province), and Xon Stations (Huaphan Province).
  • 12 CRs connected to highspeed internet for researching news and programming, and engaging with listeners. 
  • Number of local radio volunteers increased since 2007, now estimated 190 volunteers across 12 CRs.
  • Equipment upgrade enabled 62,668 local people in Nakai District and Ta-Oi Districts to access news and information through community radio.​
  • Staff and volunteers trained on radio programme production, technical repairs and financial management.
  • Staff and volunteers of CRs empowered to deliver key radio programming relevant to the needs of local communities including on COVID-19 prevention during the pandemic, safe migration and preventing trafficking in persons, environmental sustainability in agriculture, eliminating gender based violence and promoting girl’s education. 

Project Outcomes:

  • Community media services scaled up to effectively deliver quality broadcasts by improving transmission capacities, expanding geographic coverage and increasing the number of listeners in remote rural areas where access to information and opportunities for public engagement remain limited.
  • Local expertise in radio production and management strengthened through continuous capacity building, learning additional knowledge and sharing of skills at individual and institutional levels.
  • Participatory advocacy and monitoring enhanced to popularize development concepts, the SDGs and national development priorities in a language preferred and understood by rural communities, and to create multiple channels to receive feedback and measure impact.
  • Effective partnerships and mobilization enhanced to ensure financial, social and institutional stability by establishing local sustainability mechanisms and build long-term linkage between development partners and stakeholders.

GESI (Gender Equality & Social Inclusion) component

Gender equality will be promoted as one of the strategic development focus and approaches of the project. Ethnic communities, with a particular focus on ethnic women, living in remote villages with limited access to information and who have low literacy are the primary beneficiaries of the project. Community radio will encourage participation of women by reaching out through interviews and field visits and engaging women to participate in community radio activities. There will be active engagement of women in the project. Some women radio volunteers, who are active members of the Lao Women’s Union (LWU), will serve as radio hosts of programmes dedicated to gender equality, women and girls. With LWU as a project partner, radio programmes on women and gender equality will have more focus and relevance to national gender policies and programmes. Specific gender-based indicators will be used i.e: No. of gender and ethnic disaggregated listeners surveys conducted; percentage of CRs volunteers who are women.

Related Materials

Project details:

  • Status: Ongoing
  • Start Date: August 2017
  • End Date: June 2022
  • Project Office: Governance Unit, UNDP Lao PDR 
  • Focus Area: Governance/People’s participation
  • Collaborating Partners: Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, and Community Radios with support from Provincial / District Departments and Offices of Information, Culture and Tourism
  • Total budget: 3,000,000