The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on Wednesday hosted a preparatory meeting with various media and communication stakeholders to discuss the agenda of this year’s World Radio Day – due to take place on February 13.This year’s radio celebration theme is ‘Radio in times of Emergency and Disaster’.
The stakeholders are looking at ways in which radio frequencies can be secured and safeguarded so that the public can be able to access information, even in times of unforeseen emergencies.It was suggested an emergency frequency channel should be established, which will be reserved for emergencies and which should be made accessible, even in remote areas where radio signals are poor, or in some instances not available at all.
Namibia’s Commissioner to UNESCO Ferdinand Katire said they would further decide on what activities to be stage on World Radio Day. “We’re also brainstorming on the importance of radio in terms of emergencies and disasters, so that we can analyse and see where there are loopholes that need to be sealed, as well as enhancing what is already in place,” he said.Other sub-themes under discussion include: freedom of expression and journalists’ safety; how radio empowers survivors and vulnerable people; the right to privacy; how radio saves lives; the immediate accessibility of radio frequencies; and how radio frequencies can be protected in times of emergency.
It was also suggested that refugees should be engaged in the discussions, as they can assist in setting standards, as they can tell a story based on experience, considering that many came to Namibia because of disasters and emergencies and, therefore, can relate their own experience.
Stakeholder Charlie Matengu emphasised the need for the extension of radio services to all parts of the country, including the remote areas, as most people can easily understand the information relayed through radio, and where they don’t understand they typically have a platform to call in and inquire on the subject under review.
UNESCO has requested the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology to assist by providing a detailed list of what are considered disasters and emergencies in Namibia, so that they can make a sound decision on the way forward.