Magazine article UN Chronicle

Equal Access: Making Digital Broadcast Work for Development

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Equal Access: Making Digital Broadcast Work for Development

Article excerpt

SINCE THE ESTABLISHMENT of the Digital Broadcast Initiative (DBI) with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP) and the United Nations Foundation (UNF) in August 2001, Equal Access has strived to provide critically needed information and education to poor communities in the developing world. DBI provides access to locally produced, high-quality information on topics that assist communities in advancing their own social and economic development efforts. Starting with a focus on HIV/AIDS and gender issues, including violence against women, DBI broadens the impact of development activities towards achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In coordination with UNDP, Equal Access' flexible, replicable and scalable Project Methodology and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Platform for DBI is available at country and regional levels, to provide vital information, education and leadership training to even the most remote rural communities through satellite and FM radio technology.

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Since then, a number of UN agencies, as well as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and private foundations, have supported the DBI implementation in Nepal (pilot country), Afghanistan and Cambodia. Additionally, small-scale activities have been undertaken in India, the Lao People's Democratic Republic and Tajikistan. Through these, Equal Access shares its core expertise, in:

* Content creation -- developing innovative "needs-driven" programming that is culturally appropriate and incorporates feedback directly from audiences.

* Information dissemination -- implementing scalable solutions that reach mass audiences, provide training or information resources and are able to reach underserved/remote populations.

* Community engagement -- integrating communications with on-the-ground development initiatives to maximize impact through capacity-building, discussion groups, facilitated learning, interactive feedback and evaluation.

DBI, a vibrant regional communications platform, over the last four years, has been used by international development agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), content producers and grassroots communities to achieve positive social change for millions of underserved people in Asia. While the strong cross-cutting focus on HIV/AIDS prevention and women's and girls' empowerment has continued, DBI has expanded to educate communities on the role of law and justice in societies, human rights, landmine awareness and agricultural information, etc. And, importantly, six of the eight MDGs are being significantly addressed through creative radio programming and community outreach activities:

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger: on livelihoods, agriculture, animal husbandry, practical business skills.

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education: on teachers' training, early childhood development, basic education and "Welcome to School" campaigns.

Goal 3: promote gender equality and empower women: on women's rights, anti-trafficking of girls, combating domestic violence, girls' education, anti-forced and/or early marriage, sexual and reproductive health and life skills.

Goal 5: Improve maternal health: on basic health education, maternal health, sexual and reproductive health, including links with service providers.

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases: on HIV/AIDS prevention, other health education, including links with service providers.

Goal 8: Develop a partnership for global development: many of the programmes are supported by a consortium of institutional donors, development agencies and nongovernmental organizations.

Partnership is one of the Digital Broadcast Initiative's greatest success stories. Over the last four years, DBI has proven to be an exemplary model of the MDG on "partnerships for development". …

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