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Thursday, May 7, 2020

In rural India, community radio leads fight against virus



"I'd have been dead by now if I hadn't learnt about coronavirus symptoms from Radio Henvalvani," says Ram Lakhi, 30, a farmer from the Tehri district of northern India's hilly Uttarakhand State.

"The community radio station's interviews with doctors pushed me to get myself tested for the deadly disease," says Lakhi. "And I was found positive even though I had no obvious symptoms! Thankfully, with timely intervention, and age on my side, I've recovered fully now. The radio was my savior."

For millions of poor people like Lakhi, community radio networks are playing a pivotal role in disseminating authentic information about the COVID-19 pandemic, which is caused by the SARS-COV-2 virus. Radio is the only window to the outside world for many of these people, so community stations have emerged as a vital communication channel since the country went into lockdown on March 24, confining 1.3 billion people to their homes.

In normal times, community stations focus on agricultural issues, farmers' markets, weather reports and local societal problems. Now, though, their topmost priority is to spread awareness about COVID-19.

From dispelling fake news to reiterating the importance of frequent handwashing and social distancing -- as well as issuing alerts about medicines and food distribution -- the channels are educating and reassuring rural and semi-urban communities in the remotest corners of the country. Many are also joining hands with local administrations to distribute food to needy families.


Source : Alokesh Gupta

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