Sustainable Community Media Policy
Community media, especially community radio, is very important in Gambia. Aside from Radio Gambia in Banjul, there are no other radio stations operating in the country. Gambians living outside of the capital mostly rely on community radio stations to obtain the information they need, as the stations broadcast in local languages in addition to English. Because the literacy rates in the country are estimated to be between 50 and 60%, and most people are only fluent in regional dialects, the ability of community radio stations to broadcast in these languages is essential to delivering their content and building trust with their listeners.
There are currently eight community radio stations operating in Gambia, broadcasting from Kerewan, Farafenni, Bansang, Brikama Ba, Soma, Bwiam, Brikama and Kuloro. Originally set up by international and civil society organizations, these radio stations now operate under communal ownership and a board of directors, including local leaders, authorities and representatives from the supporting institutions.
As is the case for most community broadcasters, sustainability is the greatest challenge in Gambia. Many of the community radio stations continue to subsist on volunteer personnel and contributions from abroad. Although PURA (Public Utilities Regulatory Authority) officially bans community radio from earning income from advertising, they unofficially allow the stations to receive advertising payments up to 50% of their income. However, regulation of community media in Gambia remains unclear. UNESCO is working to raise awareness for sustainable community media policy with duty bearers and media stakeholders in the country, as well as to encourage the establishment of strong networks of community media to share information and knowledge.