Community Radios Empowers Development in Kenya


Community Radios Empowers, Disseminate, and Exchange Development Programs to the Local Communities: Radio Lake Victoria in Kenya attests:



In the wake of democratic transitions that occurred in the 90’s which brought a wind of change of a multiparty system in Kenya, a new player emerged in the Kenyan media industry; the radio in Kenya language began to flourish as the state grip airwaves loosened ending the era of broadcasting monopoly. This upsurge appears to suggest the potential for the radios renaissance of worldwide lies in the global south at a time when its popularity as a medium of mass-communication is daunted of wireless the past few decades.


Before the liberalization of media, Kenya was dominated with one state controlled radio station, the popularly known Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC). During the end of the KANU regime which was dictatorial in 2002, the wind of liberalization engulfed Kenyan media industry again as more than 20 independent radio stations and channels received frequencies including the radio Lake Victoria.   


At the present, in Kenya, the radio Lake Victoria is one of the powerful community radio station serving the entire western Kenya, where the hope for the poor is gleaming under the plight of poverty alleviated villages across the country, but to some extent, they can see the light of hope rejuvenating for the first time with a voice from radio Lake Victoria, one of the powerful community radio station in Kenya with over 1.5million listeners across the country, solving their life and giving them a voice, which to them is a beacon of hope and a voice of the voiceless.


The radio Lake Victoria transmission and frequency may cover the entire East Africa region, with its major motives to keep the poor awake with tangible development information’s in twenty four hour clock system, since they have been isolated, the station enables them to voice their own issues burden to their life and what hinders development projects in their areas, noting that lack of sufficient information services has contributed ignorance hence it has hampered development agenda, leaving the societies in a state of emergency, which is below one dollar in a day and below the millennium development goals. Research indicates that the community radios across the world has helped many countries especially European countries like Sweden and in the USA both have achieved industrialization through the emerging communities or the introduction of community stations. This development is well established to improve the community poor status by linking the rural and poor people with development ideas and approaches that help eradicate poverty and support sustainable development through innovative approaches, keeping people updated with news which is the most lucrative agenda.


Through radio Lake Victoria on air, the local communities are happy to discus issues that are central to them like most issues that affects women empowerment and girl child education; domestic conflict between wife and husband where women are beaten at the expense of no reason or for many petty issues. Gender relations, ways of combating and controlling HIV/Aids pandemic, rape, traditional beliefs and rights that of great consequences and obstacles to the community developments, for instances wife inheritance and female genital mutilations in the plight of HIV/AIDS epidemic. Agricultural issues mainly on various modern methods of farming and suitable period for plantation. Education focuses mainly on girl-child which is too poor and needs immediate reform, and poverty, rape and millennium development goals and its strategies.


Through the radio, they share glibly talk about government performances, and how effective are political reforms and economic development in reducing the poverty. Through air they also talk tough in demand for better political rights, higher living standards for all, and more diversified economies that can create economic growth. They too debate on common issues affecting the national unity, like tribalism, nepotism, racial discrimination, corruption and in demand for good governance.


Subsequently, the coming of radio Lake Victoria to the local community frequently receives development work-plan through the station talks which are sometimes sponsored by local development stakeholders, “radio Victoria is the voice of the voiceless and a beacon of our hope” says fishmonger at the backyard of the Lake Shore. The radio has provided a profound new opportunities and systematical ways for more inclusive sustainable developments in most parts. Since the radio is a non-profitable community radio station or organization, it has helped the poor whom are voiceless under the aura of poverty and the most marginalized communities to use the communications to improve their lives-through various stakeholders for instance; Osienala Fish Project and others has established a financial service delivery models that seeks to empower marginalized communities living at the lake shores and fishing, and also participating communities to actively implement and manage their own service delivery mechanism.


Beyond the country, millions of people remains voiceless and lull, despite multitude of new information outlets. While most media in most Africa countries are still largely state controlled stations. But when democracy is slowly spreading across the continent, most governments are loosening the grip on the tide of the airwaves and are compelled to liberalize media. “Liberalization of media houses has contributed to mass economic development like employments, and transparency between the government and the people. It has jeopardized democracy where the true nature and feelings of the country has been aired peacefully” says Harold Ayodo the Standard newspaper journalist.


Meanwhile, the idea of Radio Lake Victoria through collaboration with its major stakeholders and non-governmental organizations has accelerated development to the most marginalized areas, the disastrous flood of the Kano plain, Budalangi in western Kenya, and drought in northern parts of the country. Besides that, “it has brought newer information and communication technologies which has gain momentum a cross the community since the beginning of its operation” says Milton Ochieng one of the broadcasters of the station.


The introduction of community media or radio stations has created good internet, telecommunication and broadcasting services, which have fostered trade and improved integration into global country economy. The ability of ordinary people to communicate with each other and good governance through open and broadcasting forums, also has imparted ways of tackling poverty sand new researched ways of combating it.


Nevertheless, “radio acts as an advocate and lobby for gender balance in the community’s at different levels of decision making both in government and private sector” says Jared Opiyo Kenya News Agency reporter. On the other hand, girl-child education is one of the major important discourses which have been hampered, since its introduction in the radio program many parents are now considering girl-child education as a tool for poverty eradication.


According to Dr. Judith Atyang, the head of Mass Communication department of Maseno University, “community media should have a social agenda and not be driven by purely commercial motivations, they should involve fully community participation and decision making”. The impact of local radio stations varies, they often give isolated villages voice-many of which are not reached by public broadcasting- a means of education, self-expression, and communications since most of their broadcasting are conducted in the favorable African languages-contents; while also promoting the community’s historical background to the younger generations.


Radio Lake Victoria provides a forum of exchange of ideas and a platform for expression to women and others who have been signified in the existing media. Since its program content are cheap to create and consume, its services are also cheap to the community around…and most are free when comes to community matters and development. Interestingly, most of its broadcast is done in both Kiswahili which is a national language in Kenya and Luo a local native language. This has made a positive change to take place at the local level. The projects of radio Lake Victoria has created positive impact like intermarriages between local communities, since they understand each other through the radio cultural exchange programs which are of great social values.