India Special Report Profile: KSV Reaches Villages


Community Radio Profile: KSV Reaches Villages via Public Address

Name: Kalanjiam Samuga Vanoli

Place: Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu

Run by: DHAN Foundation

Area covered: Covers five villages: Prathamaramapuram, Kameswaram, Vilunthamavadi, Pudupalli and Vettaikaraniruppu

Population covered: Not confirmed. Pilot testing suggests it reaches only three kilometers. Quality of transmission differs in all four directions – expected to reach 1,000,000.

Profile of community: Fishermen, rain-based farms and villages irrigated by the Metur Dam.

Target audience: Farming community along the coast.

Date of launch: October 2005

Infrastructure: Building with basic recording room and transmission room and office space.

Permanent staff: Seven full time staff

Background:

In the wake of Tsunami devastation in the area in December 2004, the Madurai-based Development of Humane Action Foundation (DHAN) got involved in a project supported by the UNDP to develop community radio activities for disaster management. DHAN took the reins of the project in August 2006 and launched the Kalanjiam Samuga Vanoli (KSV) station. It is actually owned by Keelaiyur Vattara Vayalagam, a federation of Vayalagam farmers supported by DHAN.

The station's 30-minute programs are "broadcast" through Public Address Systems fixed on towers in the communities-a common mode of communication in remote areas. KSV also has a deal with AIR Karaikkal FM to broadcast selected programs once a week for 15 minutes.

Achievements:

In its PAS-only days, KSV's programs revolved around verses from ancient texts, health tips, short stories, agriculture, health, women's issues and local folk songs. Programs ran for a hour on Fridays when the weekly market was held. The challenge with the PASs was the wind factor; sometimes the programs can only be heard from one direction. Community interest rose once programs began to be broadcast on FM Karakali.

Currently, KSV has 13 categories of programs covering such topics as disaster mitigation, government schemes, education, culture, environment, NGO events and public service announcements.

Said DHAN Foundation Project Executive Naguveer Prakash, who is based in Vilunthamavadi, “We want community participation and people have begun to show some interest. But the nature of the area is such that we have a lot of learning to do to overcome the gap. Exposure in the community and their mobilization and facilitation is our first challenge.”

KSV currently spends Rs 40,000 a year and it has seven full time staff – all who have completed their Class XII, all trained to do pre production, post production and transmission work.

Kanngaredheinam, a farmer in Vilunthamavadi, says that KSV's programs via PASs could be heard within a 2 kilometer range. He says programs on prevention of seasonal diseases are very useful for community. He recalls the case when 90 people in the village were affected by chickenguniya. “Even as the disease was spreading in the village, [KSV] provided information about how people could protect themselves and their families,” he said. Prakash noted that DHAN supported the services of a homeopath doctor at the same time to distribute medicines.

Kanngaredheinam said he does not have a radio at home but he listens to the radio programs at the local shop. “Now radio can reach the whole area. It is a gift that nobody here had ever expected,” he said.

Challenges:

Mobilizing and reaching out to people living in dispersed and remote villages is a daunting task. What's more, KSV faced delays getting a broadcasting license, which extended beyond the station's funding and support schedule. If licensing had been faster, KSV feels that they would have been able to overcome the hurdles that they are currently facing – both technical and from the community.

“When we had the funds we did not have the license and now we have the license and no funds. We now have to deal with the technical problems from internal organizational funds,” said Prakash.

Prakash also fretted about a sustainable business model for the station now that the initial disaster-led funding and institutional support is moving away. “The CR model in Nagapattinam was conceived to serve communities in disaster-prone areas. We hope that in the time to come, the station will emerge as a response to disaster management,” he said. “Only then will community begin to give importance to the work that is being done by the station,” he added.


Sushmita Malaviya is a researcher and writer who lives in Bhopal.

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