#Personal Stories

How I use community radio to talk about adopting practices of sustainability

Community radio
Environment is a burning issue today, but there is very less awareness among people about it. Even if we put rural areas aside, there’s not much curiosity amongst the metropolitan cities as well. As a result, environmental protection has been reduced to just a government agenda, even though it has a close relationship with the entire society. Till the time it becomes a subject close to people, protecting environment will remain a distant dream.

My mission is to increase climate awareness among people in villages through storytelling. As a radio reporter at Radio Bundelkhand 90.4 FM, which broadcasts to more than 200 villages in four districts of Bundelkhand (Jhansi, Datiya, Nivaadi and Teekamgarh), I use community radio to talk about how each one of us can make an impact by adopting practices of sustainability.

Community Radio

Bundelkhand, which occupies parts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, is an agrarian economy. However, it also suffers from frequent droughts, making even drinking water a rare commodity. Wells have dried, many hand pumps don’t work and women have to walk for long distances to fetch water. Under the name “Shubhkal Abhiyaan” (Mission Better Tomorrow), our radio program broadcasted in Bundeli, the local language, reaches small and marginalised farmers impactfully to improve their understanding of climate change issues, their impact on farming and solutions as well.

Varsha Raikwar

One of the climate change mitigation options we promote through radio is Amrit Mitti – to revitalise the soil and reduce chemical fertilizers. It is a bio-fertilizer which increases water holding capacity of soil along with providing nutrients. Through sharing the success story of Prakash Khushwaha, a 25-year-old farmer from Rajawar village who used this technique to maximise the yield from his farm fields, we inspired many people in Bundelkhand to adopt it.

Read other stories in this series here.

We have also designed a show around a character called Bairo Bhauji (pronounced as ‘bye-row bhow-jee’, meaning Bairo, the sister-in-law or brother’s wife) who interacts with other local characters, talking about various issues around environment protection. The striking feature of the show is the hyper local dialect in combination with light hearted anecdotes as part of the conversation among the characters, which resulted in connecting with the audience in an impactful manner. We use this show as a vehicle for so many ideas; one of the most successful being kitchen-farming.

There are entire villages that adopted kitchen farming and attained self-sufficiency after listening to our program.

Along with these awareness programs, we also organise quiz competitions with nominal prizes, to engage our listeners more. Prakash, who adopted the Amrit Mitti technique, was a quiz winner who got intrigued by the idea when we spoke about it on the show. He went on to inspire so many more people through our radio by sharing his success story.

We use the powerful medium we have – community radio – to showcase environment-friendly alternatives that can be emulated easily by the people who are most affected by climate change. When you give great examples, you don’t have to preach at all.

Varsha Raikwar works as a radio reporter and has contributed to programs that aim to empower women, discuss climate change and sustainable livelihood opportunities. She uses storytelling and folk songs to cover issues related to heritage conservation, legislation and policy making, and health and cleanliness, and participates in on-ground community work. She is a youth climate leader for We The Change which aims to showcase climate solutions pioneered by 17 young Indians. The views expressed are the author’s own.