Radio is one of the most widespread and popular communication tools in developing countries. It is an effective medium for addressing issues of food security, poverty reduction and environmental protection. Radio overcomes barriers of illiteracy, language and access to information. It is particularly useful in isolated areas as it spreads critical information about emergencies, markets, weather, crops and livestock protection in a diversity of languages and formats.
In areas that do not have ready access to other communication technologies, radio also acts as an interface, allowing rural broadcasters to access global knowledge and information and adapt it to local socio-economic contexts. This information can then be used to improve agricultural productivity, profitability and food security.
Rural radio requires a two-way process in which communities actively participate in planning and producing radio broadcasts. This process promotes the exchange of views, brings people closer together, stimulates debate and enhances the value of local knowledge.
FAO has been promoting rural radio for development since the 1960s, supporting member countries in terms of community mobilization and capacity
building in all aspects of rural radio set-up and management. Starting by assessing the needs, perceptions and expectations of the community, the ComDev approach empowers rural inhabitants to participate in the dialogue and decision-making processes that are essential for their own economic, social and environmental well-being.
FAO has undertaken regional and national efforts to enhance the use of radio as a ComDev tool, and has a long lasting partnership with the World Association of Community Radios (AMARC). For example, Onda Rural is a regional platform, active since 2006, to foster cooperation between rural radios and development projects in Latin America. A similar initiative, ComDev Asia, has been launched to promote knowledge sharing among communication and community media practitioners in the Asia-Pacific region.
At the national level, FAO’s collaboration with government institutions and NGOs in Bangladesh led to the establishment in 2011 of the first community agricultural radio in the country, as part of a national rural communication service.
Back to Approaches and methods