Community radio and the development agenda of slum areas in Kenya: The case of Pamoja FM in Nairobi, Kenya
Manje, Isaac Wamalwa
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This study sought to examine the role of community radio in promoting the development agenda of slum areas with a specific focus on Pamoja FM that serves Kibera slums in Nairobi. The main objectives of this study were to investigate the role of community radio in the development of slum areas; to analyse the relevance of existing regulatory framework of community radios in Kenya in reference to the development agenda; and to explore the development messages and programmes disseminated by community radios. This case study utilised a descriptive design using qualitative approaches. The study utilised interviews, observations, and review of documents as the strategies of collecting data. Data was collected from a census sample of five newsroom staff and thirty regular listeners of Pamoja FM together with key informants who were interviewed and also participated in focus group discussions to provide information on the role of Pamoja FM in promoting the development agenda of their communities. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data based on study objectives and field work. Data was presented in narrative form and direct quotations. The role of community radio in the provision of information and knowledge for development in slum areas were found to include fostering of peace building, promoting security, overcoming language barrier challenges in communication, encouraging community participation and mobilisation in development matters, acting as a government watchdog, empowering communities economically, and providing communities with a form of communication that they can closely identify with. The study concluded that community radio is a crucial part of the communication process that aids in social change because of its potential to facilitate participation and inclusion in development agenda. Most times, if community radio is part of the communication process in development agenda, the results include peace building, achievement of development goals, accountability, good governance and reduction of poverty. Regulatory restrictions greatly limit the income of community radio stations, thus hindering them from effectively carrying out their mandate. This study established that while community radios would effectively deliver information and knowledge about development to members of their communities, it does not necessarily mean that those people are paying particular attention to that information. The community radio has played its role of transmitting that information but this study recommends that it is important to also carry out an impact assessment to find out if people are really using that information which is readily available to them, or whether the information they receive is even useful to them or if it has any impact to them. The study further recommends that the government should make the regulatory framework friendlier for community radios and that community radios should find sustainability mechanisms to help them promote the development agenda of the communities they serve.
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