AMARC Asia-Pacific statement on the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, 2020

AMARC Asia-Pacific statement on the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, 2020

Designing Policy Frameworks for Emergency Broadcasting is the Need of the Hour

13 October 2020, Kathmandu. On the occasion of the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters, AMARC Asia-Pacific, reiterates that community radios are integral and vital to managing and reducing existing levels of risk and avoiding the creation of new risk. They play a significant role in better preparing individuals and groups to cope with disaster and are vital in amplifying the voices and struggles of those individuals and groups who are more vulnerable than others. Community radios promote transparency and accountability in societies when it is needed the most, they listen to and voice the grief and trauma that is felt both individually and collectively in the aftermath of disaster and finally in the terrifying moments during disasters, community radios are often the only trusted and technically feasible medium accessible to the widest audience possible. Time and again, community radios across the Asia-Pacific region — from Bangladesh to Fiji Islands, from India to Indonesia, Japan, Nepal, Philippines and several other countries — have proven their value for building resilient societies that cope better with emergencies and disasters.

Speaking on the occasion of the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction 2020, Ramnath Bhat, President of AMARC Asia-Pacific has said, “the need of the hour is to design policy frameworks for emergency broadcasting with light-licensing, little or no procedural delays, subsidized through access to public funds and relaxations on linking technical parameters to licenses (such as transmitter power, antenna height etc.) to best accommodate the requirements of the community that requires its use,” he said. He further said that “to ensure the continued benefit of community broadcasting, policymakers need to adopt a more proactive role wherein both concepts of ‘community’ and ‘broadcasting’ are flexible and designed to reach as many groups in need, as possible.”

Nimmi Chauhan, the Asia-Pacific representative of the Women International Network (AMARC-WIN) has highlighted the role of community radios in ensuring that no one, especially the vulnerable member in the community, is left behind in the process of disaster preparedness, response and recovery. “It is a well-known fact that women and girls (in all their intersectionality – sexual identity, ethnicity, disability, caste, class, age, religion) are more vulnerable to disaster and community radios have the capacity to include them in resilience-building processes,” she has said.

Emphasizing the role of community radios, Subas Khatiwada, AMARC vice-President for South Asia has called on stakeholders to increase investments on community radios. “Countries of South Asia such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal are replete with some of the best examples of community radios contributing for saving lives and livelihoods. Strategic investments in enhancing hardware and software capacities of community radios can significantly increase their impact.”

Joining in from Indonesia, Sinam M. Sutarno, AMARC vice-President for South East Asia has stated that “experiences from the Aceh Tsunami to Yogyakarta Earthquake, from the eruption of Mount Merapi to other disasters in Indonesia, including the ongoing pandemic have underscored the vital role of community radios as the closest ally of the local communities, especially in the time of emergencies. “Community radios have distinct and diverse roles to play in every phase of disaster, from preparedness till the aftermath with only one aim – to save lives and build stronger communities,” he has said.

Speaking from Kobe, Japan, Junichi Hibino – a leading voice in the field of disaster risk reduction through community radios and treasurer of the AMARC Asia-Pacific Board of Directors – has called upon all governmental and non-governmental stakeholders for a greater engagement in every phase of disaster management with community radios across the Asia-Pacific region. “Only community radios can ensure that the survivors and those that have suffered most are fairly represented in the process of building and rebuilding communities,” he has said.

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Through service to members, networking and project implementation, the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) gathers more than 5,000 community radios, federations and community media stakeholders in approximately 115 countries.

For further information, please contact: Suman Basnet, Regional Director, AMARC Asia-Pacific Regional Office, Kathmandu, Nepal. Email: sumanbasnet@amarc-ap.org.

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