Resource: "The Growing Pains of Community Radio in Africa: Emerging Lessons
Towards Sustainability" by Peter da Costa
This 14-page study discusses community radio as a strategy for deepening
participation and community ownership. According to the author, evidence
suggests that beyond empowering communities, community radio can catalyse
behaviour change and impact positively on wider development outcomes. In
practice, the record has been mixed, with sustainability a critical
challenge. Only in a handful of cases have previously aid-dependent radio
stations become sustainable.
The report explains that community radio has grown exponentially in Africa
and elsewhere and is harnessed in many ways by different social actors.
Yet, the proliferation of radio stations, particularly since the airwaves
began to be liberalised in the 1990s, represents both progress and
The study outlines several lessons to be learned from experiences and
studies in community radio. First, what emerges is a negative correlation
between excessive dependence on external funding and sustainability. A
central coordination mechanism that provides technical support and delivers
capacity building in key areas of need is also essential and more needs to
be invested in such service centres. It is further argued that ultimately,
sustainability transcends the financial to include 'social' and
'institutional' dimensions. While all three are mutually reinforcing, each
represent critical pillars around which communities must build and grow
their radio stations if these are to endure as vehicles of social change.
The document is available for download at
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