13 February 2020, Juba, South Sudan: UNDP supported by Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), joined the media community and peace actors to celebrate the World Radio Day, under the theme 'Radio and Diversity.'
During this year's World Radio Day celebrations, key speakers emphasized the importance of radio and how it remains to be one of the most the widely consumed meidums in South Sudan and across the role. They also recognized the role radio plays in building peace and promoting sustainable development. and a key ingredient for development. The speakers noted that the radios at the community level are heroic in ensuring the people receive information, bringing people together and educating the community about the culture of South Sudan.
“We have seen the power of the radio in reaching every corner of the community. Let us embrace and defend the radio as a collective resource. Radio is your right, defend that right,” said Kamil Kamaluddeen, UNDP Resident Representative, South Sudan at the celebrations.
UNDP used the World Radio Day platform to present the Peace Journalism Award certificates to three radio journalists who won the Peace Journalism Award competition implemented by Community Media Network South Sudan (COMNeTSS).
One of the winners of the Journalism Peace Award, Rosemary Wilfred shared the story she pitched for the competition. She said, “The people have tied their lives to the coming of the peace. Some youth have put their lives and dreams on hold waiting for the peace to come…The radio has the power to influence people’s opinions, change the narrative, influence the way people think and how they want to live their lives going forward.” The story she pitched brings out these experiences and offers an alternative narrative and thinking to the people who are still held hostage by their wait for peace that they can continue with their lives, forgive others, even as the political peace process continues.
Earlier on 12 February 2020, a day prior to the World Radio Day, COMNeTSS, in collaboration with UNDP and UNESCO, organized a Peace Conference that brought together 65 participants representing the media houses, civil society organizations, women groups, members of listeners' clubs from the community, the government and other peace actors. The Peace Conference celebrated the role community radios play in building and sustaining peace in South Sudan. The radio is the most commonly used medium of communication in the community to share and receive information. Radio also provides one of the cheapest access to information.
Commenting on the importance of community radios, Mr. Julius Banda, UNESCO Representative in South Sudan said: “The radio is a very powerful tool for peace. Community radios can be, and have been proven to be an effective tool for rural communities to participate in matters affecting them, and a platform where citizens can access information”
Hon. Mat Ruoh, member of the Specialized Committee for Peace and Reconciliation in South Sudan National Legislative Assembly said, “Our focus is how we can bring peace to South Sudan. The peace must come from all of us. We know the media can have a positive and a negative impact on peace, but we should use the media for peace.”
The media industry, with the right capacity and investment, is uniquely poised to sustain peace in South Sudan. UNDP takes this investment seriously and has partnered with UNESCO and Community Media Network South Sudan to strengthen community Radios in Torit, Rumbek, Aweil, Bor and Wau, with other locations lined up for similar support. Through this partnership, 66 journalists have been trained on gender and conflict sensitive reporting, on the job training completed in five community radio stations, listeners' clubs formed, and a Peace Journalism Award established.
“This is the first time the members of the listeners’ clubs come to Juba to be part of the Peace Conference at the national level,” Josephine Achiro, Executive Director, COMNeTSS said.
The celebration of World Radio Day corresponds to the date of creation of the United Nations Radio (UN Radio), on February 13, 1946, and celebrates the radio as a way of educating people, providing information, and promoting freedom of expression across cultures.