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Radio station for ethnic minorities in Lao PDR to be launched

© UNESCO / Genier

Lao National Radio (LNR) - the national radio station in the country of Lao PDR - with the support of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) – is launching a new local community radio station in the Xiengkho district of Lao PDR. The project aims at increasing the flow of news for isolated communities and to promote people’s participation in community development. “UNESCO has been supporting the development of community media for decades and is particularly sensitive to projects aiming at strengthening ethnic minority languages”, says Rosa Gonzalez, UNESCO Advisor for Communication and Information in UNESCO/Bangkok.

Xiengkho, one of the 47 poorest districts of Lao PDR, has been chosen as site for this project due to the low level of local radio services. Xiengkho’s total population is of 280,000. It comprises three main ethnic groups, namely Lao, Hmong and Khmu.

The radio station will be renovated and equipped with the help of LNR staff and selected trainees with a particular focus on women. The launched radio station will primarily provide community-based radio programmes including ethnic language windows in Lao, Hmong and Khmu. Deputy Director of the LNR, Vorasack Pravongviengkham, is convinced that “the radio station will promote community development, lifelong learning and cultural diversity”.

In line with the project, two mentors will train local radio trainees from the community on technical operation and maintenance of radio equipment, radio programme production techniques and journalism. The trainees will also conduct a target audience research among the villagers of Xiengkho in order to identify their information needs. The results will be used to produce target based radio programmes.

The IPDC is the only multilateral forum in the UN system designed to mobilize the international community to discuss and promote media development in developing countries. The Programme not only provides support for media projects but also seeks to secure a healthy environment for the growth of free and pluralistic media in developing countries.

By Karolin Susanne Rist, UNESCO Bangkok