THE PLACE OF COMMUNITY RADIO IN RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN KENYA: CASE STUDY OF SAUTI FM IN RARIEDA, SIAYA COUNTY

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ABSTRACT

Rural communities in Kenya have largely been relegated to the periphery of the regular mainstream socio-economic and political development conversations. Their voices remain muted and their core political and socio-economic concerns largely excluded from the core resource planning and allocation. Radio offers a platform for remedying this situation as it is widely regarded as the ideal media for developmental communication (Butner, 2003), particularly for rural populations. Yet not just any type of radio may be ideal for this purpose. Community Radio is the model that is best suited for development communication for rural populations.

This study set out to examine the role of Community Radio in rural development in Kenya. Sauti FM, a community radio station located in Rarieda, Siaya County was selected for a case study with the purpose of demonstrating how the radio station has been harnessed for the socio-economic, cultural and political development of Rarieda; as well as the impacts of the radio‘s programming in its catchment area. This study was qualitative in orientation and data were as gathered through focus group discussions, key informant interviews and direct observation in addition to consulting secondary data from various sources. The findings of this study are that Sauti FM is indeed being harnessed for the social, economic, cultural and political development of the inhabitants of Rarieda in such areas as mobilization of resources and collective action, preservation and promotion of progressive facets of local culture, civic education, behaviour modification, business and social networking, as well as promotion of fraternity and harmony in the community. The impact of Sauti FM is starting to be recorded in the stations catchment area.


Radio is considered as the ideal mass communication media especially in developing nations (Butner, 2003). Community radio has grown (Mrutu; 2008) in spite of growth in other forms of mass media such as internet and mobile-based social media is an indication of the enduring versatility of radio. As can be seen from the case of Sauti FM in Rarieda, community radio is a key facilitator of rural development. Notwithstanding that, the number of community radio stations in Kenya remains relatively few. There is need to create a more conducive legal and policy framework to support the development of community radio in the country. Existing community radio stations on their part should develop effective sustainability systems to enable them thrive. Such would include better community participation and support, volunteerism, partnership with devolved government units, and creative fundraising initiatives.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Table of Contents
ABSTRACT

Chapter One – INTRODUCTION
1.1       Background
1.2       Statement of the Research Problem
1.3       Research Question
1.4       Purpose of Study
1.5       Study Objectives
1.6       Significance of Study
1.7       Scope and Limitations of the Study
1.8       Operationalization of Terms

Chapter Two - LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
2.1       Introduction
2.2       Conceptual Framework
2.3       Theoretical Framework
2.4       Development Communication
2.5       Rural Development
2.6       Radio
2.7       Community Radio
2.8       Challenges Facing Community Radio Growth

Chapter Three – RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.1       Introduction
3.2       Qualitative Case Study
3.3       Study Location
3.4       Sampling
3.5       Data Collection
3.5.1  Key Informant Interviews
3.5.2  Focus Group Discussions
3.5.3  Direct Observation
3.5.4  Secondary Sources
3.6       Data Analysis

Chapter Four – DATA ANALYSIS, PRESENTATION AND INTERPRETATION
4.1       Introduction
4.2       Harnessing Sauti FM for Rural Development
4.2.1  Overcoming Language Barrier
4.2.2  Close Identification with Community
4.2.3  Cultural Mirror
4.2.4    Community Mobilization
4.2.5    Civic Education
4.2.6    Networking Platform
4.2.7    Crusading for a Moral Society
4.2.8    Promotion of Local Talent
4.2.9    Dress Window to External World
4.3   Social, Cultural, Economic and Political Impacts of Sauti FM
4.3.1    Cultural Repository
4.3.2    Drive towards Behavioural Change
4.3.3    Highlighting the Effects of HIV/AIDS
4.3.4    Gender Mainstreaming and Overcoming Retrogressive Cultural Practices
4.3.5    Environmental Conservation
4.3.6    Campaign for Freedom and Justice
4.4   Challenges Constraining the Growth and Sustainability of Community Radio Broadcasting in Kenya
4.4.1    Cost of Setting Up a Community Radio Station
4.4.2    Weak Financial Base
4.4.3    Narrow Geographical Reach
4.4.4    Limited Community Participation in Radio Station Affairs
4.4.5    Volunteerism
4.4.6    Political Interference
4.4.7    Competition for Listeners and Resources
4.4.8    Governance and Management of Community Radio Station
4.4.9    Rapid Technological Advance

Chapter Five – SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.1       Introduction
5.2       Summary
5.3       Conclusions
5.3.1    Harnessing Sauti FM for Rural Development
5.3.1.1 Community Mobilization
5.3.1.2A Campaign Tool
5.3.1.3Cultural Heritage vis-à-vis Change
5.3.1.4 Civic Education
5.3.2    Impacts of Sauti FM
5.4       Recommendations
5.4.1    Legal and Policy Framework
5.4.2    Sustaining Community Radio Stations
5.4.2.1   Community Subscription and Support
5.4.2.2   Volunteerism
5.4.2.3   Partnership with Devolved Government
5.4.2.4   Fundraising Initiatives
5.4.3    Civic Education
References
Appendices


CHAPTER ONE


1.0         INTRODUCTION


1.1         Background




In 1996, on the initiative of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on ―Communication for Development‖ and went further to define what exactly the General assembly meant by communication for development. Article 6 of General Assembly Resolution 51/172 adopted the following formal definition of Communication for Development:

―…. two-way communication systems that enable dialogue and that allow communities to speak

out, express their aspirations and concerns and participate in the decisions that relate to their development‖


While recognizing the central role of communication in the process of community development, this UN General Assembly resolution emphasizes the importance of a two-way communication process; essentially a dialogic undertaking that affords targeted communities unfettered opportunity to engage authorities or institutions whose actions impact the said communities in articulating their aspirations and then going further to participate in making decisions on initiatives that address their developmental issues. It is envisaged that the mode and means of communication would be appropriate to the prevailing cultural, economic, social, political and technological circumstances within the target community as to make the communication process possible, effective and efficient. This has to be so owing to the fact that whereas communication systems (both information and transport) have advanced rapidly over the recent decades, that has been accompanied by an ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor in terms of accessibility to the available information communication technologies.

Mass communication systems have evolved in tandem with the socio-cultural, economic, political and most particularly exponential technological advances. From the rudimentary message runner, blowing of the horn or beating of the drum among most African communities to the radio waves, satellite, internet, mobile telephony and social media, the information communication landscape has without a doubt grown in leaps and bounds over the last one century. These developments have presented mankind with numerous communication systems and channels to choose from in the process of generating and exchanging information. From amongst these information communication systems, radio has been widely acknowledged as an ideal and one of the most popular media for communication particularly in less developed economies where literacy and geographic barriers are real challenges to exchange of information. Owing to its affordability, accessibility and flexibility, radio remains the most popular mass communication medium; in spite of the great explosion in the development of Information Communication Technologies in form of television, mobile telephony, internet, and social media as alluded to above. Because radio has immediacy, the messages it broadcasts can get to the farthest parts of a region at the same time as the events being reported on unfold. In these far flung rural areas, it is easy to say that radio would be the most important - and probably the only and most reliable - medium of communication available to the population.

The first public radio broadcasts are thought to have began in the 1910s. Over the succeeding decade, public radio broadcasting grew steadily. The 1920s decade recorded phenomenal growth in depth and breadth with commercial radio stations being established in the United States of America and the rest of the world. By the 1930s, a radio receiver was a common household item in many homes across the developed world. Since I955 radio sets have outnumbered copies of......


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