Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu, MP,Bangladesh, on his current visit to Sri Lanka (June 2015) met Mass Media and Information Minister H E Gayantha Karunathilaka. Notable to our project Mobilizing Knowledge for Sustainable Agriculture is that the Sri Lankan side expressed interest in learning from the experience of Bangladesh in implementing Right to Information Act and in introducing Community Radio.
Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are two countries in S. Asia which have distinctly different experiences in community radio for rural development. Sri Lanka has had a long history of rural and regional radio stations. In its SLBC network there are reportedly 15 stations now on-air in the country, aiming to ensure empowerment and right to information for the rural community. They are broadcasting altogether 125 hours program per day on information, education, and local entertainment and development motivation activities. Around 1000 youth are now working with those stations throughout the country as rural broadcasters. Sri Lanka has 5.5 million rural people in 68 upazillas under 14 districts. Sri Lanka stated that another 17 community-based radio stations will be on air by December 2016. Our project has collaborated with radio stations including Rangiri Radio and Wayamba.
Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC) actively works to improve recognition of the community electronic media sector [Community Radio | Community TV | Community Film] & its work in and involvement with the communities it seeks to serve. BNNRC represent the community electronic media sector to Government, Industry, Regulatory Bodies, Media, Academia and Development Partners from 2000. The BNNRC provides leadership and support for rural initiators to facilitate independent electronic community broadcasting services and to build and strengthen rural communities with the support from Free Press Unlimited.
Currently there are 15 radio Stations are on-air in the country, aiming to ensure empowerment and right to information for the rural community. They are broadcasting altogether 120 hours program per day on information, education, and local entertainment and development motivation activities. Around 1000 Youth Women & Youth are now working with those Stations throughout the country as rural broadcasters. 15 community radio stations presently cover more than 4.6 million listeners of 67 upazilla of 13 districts.
The community radio movement is important in S. Asia. It has tremendous potential to mobilize agricultural knowledge as well as add value to new information and communication technologies such as mobile phones. Our project has encouraged the convergence of Open Source Software such as Frontline SMS and Freedom Fone. Such opportunities are an encouragement for rural areas who want to access knowledge and communicate. There is great potential in community based programming in both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. We welcome the international networking of these countries collaborating and wish them all the best in their policy development and activities to support the radio+ stations!