Mzuzu — The Malawi National Commission for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has advised communities where community radios operate to exercise great sense of ownership and accountability if the radio stations are to be sustained.
Speaking Wednesday at the official opening of a two-day workshop for community radio operators in Mzuzu, the commission's Acting Executive Secretary, Emmanuel Kondowe, said community radios play a vital role in communities such that there is great need to sustain them.
Since community radios are non-profit making entities and are run primarily by volunteers rather than paid staff, the UNESCO official said they often struggle with sustainability due to a number of reasons.
"This is why one of the objectives of the workshop, if not primary, is to impart information that can help the community radios sustain their operations with less difficulty," Kondowe said.
In their presentations, all the radio stations invited for the training (Usisya and Chilundu from Nkhatabaybay, and Likoma Community Radio from Likoma District) outlined challenges affecting their operations ranging from lack of resources to lack of journalistic expertise.
However, Kondowe called for a strong sense of ownership and accountability from communities to sustain the radio stations.
"Community radios can be more sustainable when there is a strong sense of ownership within the community.
"Where governance structures are representative and processes are democratic, a community service is more likely to be sustainable," said the UNESCO official.
Being based at grass-root level, community radios serve distinct local communities by providing access to airwaves for the under-represented voices in the country.
Among other objectives, the two-day capacity-building workshop aims at imparting skills and knowledge to help participants run their radios sustainably and help them acquire skills of writing successful project proposals.
The capacity-building workshop has attracted 24 participants, eight from each of the three community radio stations.