In the rural and mountainous Xiengkho District of Huaphan Province in northeastern Lao PDR, local radio has become a reality thanks in part to a project implemented by Lao National Radio (LNR) and the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, and with support from UNESCO and the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC).
Recognizing the importance of radio as an essential source of relevant information for local listeners specific to their language and culture, the government of Lao PDR was supportive of bringing radio to this area in which it had previously not existed on a local level.
The project, which began in September 2012, involved successfully renovating a building to serve as a fully functioning radio station, complete with an FM transmitter and studio equipment. In order to ensure that the station would be used and maintained, radio technicians, programme producers, and 25 journalists were trained, with a particular focus on training women. By early 2013 the station was up and running, broadcasting directly from Lao National Radio three times a day. In the second half of 2013, Xiengkho Radio became fully functioning under the goals of the project, broadcasting daily local programs in Lao languages as well as Lao National Radio programs in Lao, Hmong, and Khmu languages.
Mr. Sipha Nonglath, Director of Lao National Radio, in discussing the importance of community radio for Lao PDR during the opening ceremony of Xiengkho Radio last April, said that given that most people relied mainly on agriculture, radio was effective for communicating policies and providing information and entertainment.
Further development and support of radio in provincial Lao PDR will increase availability of content in local languages, facilitate access to information and open up new spaces for rural and ethnic people to make their voices heard.