Connecting Remote Villagers

In rural Bhutan, disseminating important information has been a challenging task; national newspapers do not always reach rural populations and even when they do, high rates of adult illiteracy mean that information still isn’t reaching the masses. One solution to keeping remote areas connected and informed is community radio.

This is why READ Bhutan is so excited about our project in Khotakpa Village! Made up primarily of farmers, two-thirds of the adults in this rural village are illiterate; not only does this mean they are often unaware of current events, but also about the most effective agricultural practices. To combat this, READ Bhutan inaugurated its first community radio (KYD 91.1FM) on March 25th and can now be heard in 9 nearby villages!

READ Bhutan and community leaders inaugurate the villages’ first radio station

“The Community Radio will promote civic participation, enhance education, provide access to useful information and build an informed community,” says READ Bhutan Country Director Karma Lhazom. “It will also connect the far villages of Pema Gatshel valley, which are otherwise very isolated from each other.”

Bopo Drukpa, the Khotakpa Tshogpa (village head), is also eager to see the benefits of this project. “The radio station will both inform and entertain us,” he said. “My work as a tshogpa will become much easier now as we will be able to use radio to inform people about various meetings and disseminate other important messages immediately.”

Another villager, Namgay Wangdi, feels confident in the local, community-driven initiative: “Ours is a very remote village. Because the information will be coming from our own people, it will be helpful to us.”

These remoteness of these villages require the communities to work together to stay connected

In order to manage the station, READ Bhutan has trained a Station Manager who will be guided by the Community Radio Management Committee, which is comprised of local villagers. They have also trained volunteers to produce and air programs, which will be sustained by the revenue generated by local advertisements.

KYD Community Radio was established with financial support from Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation and in partnership with Ministry of Information and Communications.

About the author:

Ngawang Phuntsho

Prior to joining READ Bhutan as Development Officer in 2012, Ngawang Phuntsho worked at the Head Office of the Bank of Bhutan as the PR & Media Officer. He blogs regularly on social issues and frequently contributes columns to the local newspapers. He has a Bachelors Degree in English Literature from Sherubste College, Kanglung, via Delhi University.

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