PROJECT: Namma Dhwani
LOCATION: Budikote village, Kolar district, Karnataka
MYRADA: a grassroot NGO that has been working in the Budikote sector for over 10 years in the area of integrated rural development.
VOICES: A Bangalore based NGO that aims to use ICT & media for social change and is a leading advocacy agent for legislation supporting community radio
UNESCO: A leading UN arm that supports ICT and rural development
” To bring the voices of the marginalized from the periphery of information & awareness to the center & give them the opportunity to make informed choices & decisions
” To foster a sense of ownership and enthusiastic participation by the community
” To be able to encourage a casteless, women empowering, value based environment
” To make technology accessible and relevant to rural settings
” To act as a legitimate case to make way for legislation conducive to the opening up of community radio in India
” To investigate whether Information & Communication Technologies can help reduce poverty gaps
Namma Dhwani in Kannada (the state language of Karnataka, India) means ‘our voices’. Based out of Budikote, a village about 100 kms from Bangalore it is a partnership between the community of Budikote, VOICES, and MYRADA with support from UNESCO. This partnership is unique because of the skill sets that each of the organisations bring in. VOICES is an NGO that looks at using media for social change and has been actively lobbying for community radio in India. MYRADA has been working in the Kamasamudram area for over 10 years towards integrated rural development. UNESCO has a history of supporting projects of ICT’s and development. Namma Dhwani is perhaps one of the country’s first cable audio initiatives. Get in touch with us
Just to paint a picture of Budikote for you, it has a population of about 3020 people and is the Panchayat headquarters for 8 surrounding villages. The overall literacy is about 55% and the village has 1 high school, 3 primary schools and 2 Anganvadis. Most people speak both Kannada and Telegu and the main occupation is agriculture and coolie labour. One of the outstanding features of this community is the presence of 13 Women Self-Help groups who meet every week to engage in micro credit management.
VOICES & MYRADA began work in Budikote as early as 1999 with a needs assessment study, findings of which revealed that the community did want an information centre, which would give them timely & locally relevant information, through audio, a medium which they were comfortable with. With this end in mind began a spate of training sessions for volunteers conducted by experts from All India Radio on programming techniques. As an outcome of these training sessions volunteers began to make programmes on topics such as sericulture, organic farming techniques, child and reproductive health, insurance etc. What we needed now was an outlet of getting people to listen and respond to these programmes. This is when we started narrowcasting in Self-Help Group meetings. We extended this network of narrowcasting to 60 SHG’s belonging to 35 villages in the Budikote Sector. This system worked well because the Self Help Group mainly consists of women members who belong to poor families and have less access to crucial information. It also ensured that we received immediate feedback from them which we could incorporate into future programming.
Till date 300 programmes have been made by the volunteers of Namma Dhwani. In September 2001 ,with funding from UNESCO, we established our audio production centre. With a physical space, the need to put in place a management system was imperative. The management committee of Namma Dhwani describes best the core philosophy of the audio station. The committee consists of 10 women members who represent their SHG’s, the staff and volunteers of Namma Dhwani and representatives of MYRADA and VOICES. The vision is to work towards making this committee completely independent as far as Namma Dhwani management goes & also, to take the initiative forward in a sustainable manner. This committee meets every 5th and 25th of the month to evaluate programming, provide feedback and discuss management issues. On a regular basis, vision building exercises and stocktaking training sessions are conducted. During their last 5- year vision building training session, the committee came up with a wish list. Some of the items were-
± To cable the entire village so that everyone could listen to Namma Dhwani Programmes ± To make sure that every eligible child attends school ± To educate every household about indigenous medicine ± To make sure that every household has contributed to the making of atleast one programme ± To work towards making the youth of Budikote computer-literate
Working to making these dreams come true, we established an audio cable connection to the tenth standard classroom of the high school of Budikote in July 2002. With the co-operation of the Block Education Officer, staff, parents and children the students now listen to 2 hours of programming every week. The format of the programmes consists of newspaper reading, local news, general knowledge, music, model lessons, and programmes about issues like dowry, environment preservation etc. This connection became popular with the children as a result of which we now have a childrens club called Hosa Belaku (meaning “New Light”) of about 60 children from Budikote and the neighboring villages. They dabble in drama, poetry, music and are fast learning audio production techniques.
In April 2002, 2 computers were installed at Namma Dhwani & training sessions in basic computer literacy were begun by some of the more literate community members for the others. Adding to the value of the partnership is the collaboration of Namma Dhwani with MYRADA’s local Resource Centre. The objectives of the Resource Centre are to
– ± Help form and train Community-based Orgainizations (CBOs) ± Provide information linking CBOs, Government and Private institutions ± Conflict resolution and counseling services ± Computer based services ± Financial service linkages ± Regular monitoring and evaluation of CBO’s ± Internet services
This way we see the Resource Centre as being the information collection centre and Namma Dhwani disseminating it. One of the questions that has been often posed to the members of Namma Dhwani is “where can I listen to my own voice?” Till now we had only been able to cater to specific sections of the community like the women and children. In the absence of legislation that allows for use of airwaves, cable seemed like our only best alternative. With support from UNESCO as part of a span of projects that looks at ICT’s and poverty reduction, Namma Dhwani has begun the cable installation process in collaboration with the local cable operator. The first phase of the installation became operational on March 28th, 2003. As a part of the trial run we had decided not to make a public announcement to the community about the telecasts. A few minutes after our first cablecast we got our first phone call from a villager informing us that the he was listening to the programme and that it sounded clear and great. After that we have received a flood of requests and advice on what kind of programmes to make. With such an impromptu success, the light at the end of the tunnel now only looks brighter! Namma Dhwani as of now produces 2 hours of programming every day- between 6.30-7.30 in the morning and again, in the evening.
We are hoping to maintain a balance of 50% entertainment and 50% information. A glimpse into Namma Dhwani’s programming schedule will show you slots dedicated to Panchayat issues, income-generating programmes, sangha (self-help group) issues etc. It won’t be too long before all the houses in the village will tune in on their radio’s and TV’s to listen to their own cable radio station, their own voices… Click here for programming schedule