An American-sponsored media development organization known as Internews and community radio station managers and boards have ended a two day media conference in the commercial city of Ganta. The conference, under the theme, “Community Radio: Amplifying voices of citizens for Electoral Reform”, held July 2-4, brought together community radio managers and board chairpersons from across Liberia.
In an overview, Internews Chief of Party, Jan McArthur, stressed the importance of community radios in the electoral reform process, because it laid the platform, where the voices of the rural dwellers are heard.
She said USIAID funded the organization to help citizens engage in election reform dialogue and the community radio stations role is very important.
She explained that rural dwellers are not opportune to participate in elections dialogues as compared to those living in urban areas, particularly Monrovia; so it is through the community radio they can be heard or can have dialogue with their leaders.
“The role of the media in election is to bring about credibility, accountability and transparency, where the citizens see their leaders come to the village and speak to them face to face before they get elected,” she said.
Topics discussed in the conference include: Internews and community radio partnership review; Internews CLEAR overview and accomplishments; review concept of of community radio management; and GeoPoll survey and media rating.
Others include, alternative dispute management mechanism for dispute resolution and community radio governance; equipment management and reporting template; national media council role and Complaint mechanism; LTA new licensing regime for community radio in Liberia; and community radio sustainability after the Internews LMD program comes to an end.
There was a panel discussion on the role of community radio station in promoting citizens’ electoral reform agenda where four panelists, including representatives from National Elections Commission, Association Liberia Community Radio/ALICOR, Elections Coordination Committee and House Committee on Election and Inauguration.
During the panel discussion, there were several recommendations made to get the citizens voices heard on the community radio.
Some of the recommendations were that, the community radio use vernacular to disseminate election information, where the voices of the locals will be heard and that community radio open dialogue through talk show for public discussion.
However, a spokesperson of the community radio managers, Mr. Marcus Ross of Voice of Pleebo, is requesting Internews to provide mobility so as enhance their movement in their respective communities. However, Ma Zoe Ross, Board chair of Radio Bomi, stressed the need for solar panels to be distributed among the stations for electric power.
This is Internews’ 2nd community radio conference to be held in Ganta. The first was held in 2017 with emphasis on elections coverage.