UNESCO New Delhi launched a project titled ‘Strengthening Community Media Crisis Preparedness and Response in India’, with a special focus on reporting on COVID-19 on May 26, 2020. The project was launched in a webinar co-hosted by implementation partner Maraa, a media and arts collective based in Bangalore, Karnataka.
This project is part of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development Communication (IPDC) with a larger aim to promote free and pluralistic media in developing countries.
Eric Falt, UNESCO New Delhi Director, kick-started the programme with his welcome remarks where he emphasized on the role of community media, especially community radios (CRs) in keeping the flow of information unruffled and genuine during these challenging times marred by a global health crisis.
During the eight month-long project, Maraa will work closely with 12 community radio stations across 10 Indian states and in five different languages to create a genuine flow of information. The focus will be on building mechanisms to ensure support and accountability from local authorities, a network of local reporters from active listeners, addressing issues of gender violence, emotional and psychological counselling during COVID, and countering misinformation.
The event was attended 36 community media practitioner and reporters from the selected CR stations; and participants were welcomed by Hezekiel Dlamini, Adviser for Communication and Information, UNESCO New Delhi. The project was introduced by the team from Maraa further opening the platform for discussion on challenges faced by the CRs. The stations expressed the need for a support system to produce local content on issues related to COVID as- misinformation, quarantine, stigma, plight of the migrants, and difficulties faced by the health workers as part of their usual programme.