HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsWorld Radio Day: Evolution, innovation and connection in a changing climate

World Radio Day: Evolution, innovation and connection in a changing climate

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BY PETER MAKWANYA

The World Radio Day, celebrated on February 13, 2021 had a milestone and refreshing theme which served to remind people that radio has come of age.

Radio has evolved and transformed into a trailblazing, communication, empowering and networking tool that it is today. In its evolutionary path, radio has been upgraded, modified and technologically shaped to meet the unending demands of the audiences including its role in informing communities about the impacts of climate change.

Climate change has been labelled the defining challenge of our time, hence radio is a key player in the fight against climate change. With climate change rearing its ugly head around the world, radio remains the top medium given the number of audiences it reaches.

In terms of its penetrative power, educative, cost effective and user friendly nature, radio is still the medium of choice in connecting heterogeneous audiences far and wide.

Radio provides tremendous ability of transcending geographical boundaries, overcoming barriers associated with illiteracy, working language and affordability, all instrumental in the fight against climate change.

Radio has proved to be the vital link in conscientising local communities and target audiences about deforestation, land degradation, burning bushes, industrial waste and toxins, including carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels and their overall effect on the environment.

These are stories that the world should question and refuse to live-with.

The power of the radio to strategically and sufficiently situate local languages at the heart of local development, such as climate change is key, critical and transforming.

In its attempts to engage communities, educate and make them aware of climate change issues, the radio makes use of drama, climate resource persons, talk-shows, music, role-plays, story-telling, phone-ins, among others.

This is aimed at helping communities to learn more about the impacts of climate change and how to respond.

In this overall discourse of evolution, innovation and connection, radio continues to make positive footprints as a tool for awareness raising, which is ongoing as a reminder and for refreshing memories.

This includes delivering information and messages to listeners about what climate change has done around the world and what it is doing in their communities and local landscapes.

This also includes weather updates and forecasts to farmers, early warning systems, approaching cyclones and other natural disasters so that they stay informed and sufficiently prepared.

Furthermore, through evolution, innovation and connectivity, the radio reaches every corner even marginal areas of the country to educate communities about responsible behaviours which do not promote environmental harm and can be used to enhance climate change adaptations.

The radio’s innovation and connective power is being widely used in communities to nurture and strengthen community voices, providing space for knowledge and information sharing, thereby contributing to community empowerment and ownership.

Through community ownership and relevant participatory behaviours, locals can communicate knowledge according to their underlying needs and demands beyond the community in order to inform policy, research and close inherent communication gaps created by newspapers and television.

Radio has the power to bring disconnected communities together, establish coalitions and collaborative networks to take climate change head-on.

Radio has managed to narrow the climate change knowledge and information gaps since it is readily available where there is poor infrastructure and weak technological capacities.

Even those who live in isolated and marginal environments are regarded as the radio’s final users, hence it has no boundaries and less restrictions.

Through radio, rural farming communities now have the chance to create information and share it among themselves to fight climate change using less costly methods, most of which are indigenous knowledge systems related.

This is done to provide knowledge and information links with the outside world, communicating droughts, floods and other relevant useful information in a changing climate.

With nearly every city and town in Zimbabwe having a radio, information is now readily available, being relayed from cities and towns to rural and farming communities thereby establishing sustainable networks, integration and reception.

This means that local communities can now gather vital climate, weather and food security information to improve and transform lives, so that in terms of climate information, no one is left behind.

Of course there are challenges but they do not outweigh the successes gained and registered so far.

With broadcasting licences continuing to be issued, it is everyone’s desire to see farming communities like Gokwe, Murehwa, Gwanda, Concession, Mutoko among others having their own broadcasting radios.

The advent of a solar energy revolution has also witnessed the localisation of information through free-play solar powered two-way radios.

Radio has also contributed to empowering community foot-soldiers like women and youths, who are critical in disaster reduction and prevention, as vulnerable populations and sources of knowledge for disaster preparedness and recovery.

In Zimbabwe, a combination of government owned radio stations and private players collaborate to fight the impact of climate change in innovative ways.

Radio has helped communities to connect the dots with editors, journalists and correspondents in the broadcasting media in interrogating climate change issues.

In this regard, radio has also provided networks and opportunities for local communities to connect with their environments, indigenous knowledge systems, nature and identities in order to fight the impact of climate change, collectively and collaboratively. Information needs of rural communities living in climate sensitive regions are communicated and fulfilled.

This also gives the chance for schools to join a broad network of radio lessons, designed to catch them young, empower them with climate literacy so that they are also included in climate change planning and budgeting.

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