By Jabulile Mbatha

Local radio stations in Zambia have proven to influence social change and community development. Nick Chasimpa of the BBC Media Action in Zambia speaks about the power of community radio through designing programming that specifically addresses social issues and create community engagement.

Statistics indicate that 96% of people in Zambia have access to radio, while 67% claimed to use their own radio, subsequently translating to radio being the most accessible medium.

Chasimpa highlighted that in Zambia politicians are difficult to approach yet are available during election season. Zambian community radio stations provide a platform that represents the marginalized and bridge the gap between the people and politicians, thus creating social change.

BBC Media Action provides mentorship and training workshops which in turn form a partnership with local radio stations and at a practitioner level, improves production, technical skills and understanding its audiences.

BBC Media Action also hosts monthly outdoor governance programmes which are facilitated by mentors who open the floor for discussions and interaction between listeners and local leaders in order to raise and address social issues such as corruption, service delivery etc.

There is a large radio following due to its community journalists being in touch with their communities; reinforcing community engagement and increasing knowledge about governance.

Chasimpa elaborated that the exposure to these programmes meant that the community increased its knowledge and confidence which therefore results in political participation. He went on to highlight a few examples of local leaders who are making social changes in their communities and then crediting those radio stations for allowing community member to air their grievance.

Edited by Bridget Lepere