“Hello sir, I have a problem to report,” spoke a faint voice from the other end of the phone. He was Tekendra Ore, a 30-year-old visually impaired man of Bheriganga Municipality-9, Surkhet. The radio host asks him to explain his problem.
It had been several months he had not received his social security allowance for no clear reasons. The COVID-19 lockdown had further complicated his livelihood. And to his utter dismay, he was left out when the local government distributed the relief packages to the most vulnerable.
He expressed his grievances through the live phone-in radio program "Jeevan Raksya" that solicits calls from people across Nepal who might be in trouble due to the lockdown and the COVID-19 pandemic. The radio host immediately connected with the mayor of Bheriganga municipality, who then promised to solve the problem, as he talked live on the radio program, going on-air from over 200 radio stations across the country.
Within a week, Ore received all the pending social security allowance and the COVID-19 relief package from the hands of his own mayor.
"I had never imagined that the mayor would come door to door and hand over the allowances. This has increased my trust on the local government. I would like to see the radio to continue to act as a mediator to help solve citizens’ problems,” Ore shared his happiness talking to Community Information Network (CIN).
Yuvaraj Baral, a vegetable farmer from the district of Okhaldhunga, was worried that he would soon have to dump all his vegetables because of the lockdown. All his produce, including around 5000 kg of potatoes at his store in Champadevi, was going to waste. He ran from pillar to post, but to no avail.
Out of desperation, he rang the radio program ‘Jeevan Rakshya’.
Responding to his call, the radio host promptly connected Baral with Chair of Champadevi Rural Municipality Nawaraj KC, who promised to purchase all the potatoes in stock as he needed them to add in the relief package to the needy. Going beyond, KC shared his mobile number publicly and called on all the farmers in his municipality to reach out to him for any problem.
A day later, Baral shared his joy with the radio team. “As soon as the program was over, Chair KC called me and bought all my 4,900 kg potatoes at the rate of Rs. 37 per kg. I would like to thank the radio team from the bottom of my heart for this initiative," he said.
Forty-two households of Chaurjahari Municipality Ward No. 11 of Rukum West were left high and dry after the only electric pump that ran the lift drinking water scheme broke down. Bhim Dangi, a resident in the community, lodged the problem at the live phone-in radio program. The radio team immediately connected him with the local government and an immediate solution was sought. Residents of the village were happy to report within a week that they had regained their access to water.
The program not only covers socio-economic issues, but also offers solutions to several problems faced by pregnant women and lactating mothers. Purna Poudel rang up the radio in Kathmandu from Dang knowing that he can share his problem with a popular gynecologist. “My sister-in-law is in nine months of pregnancy. Her due date is approaching. How can she safely deliver her child at home?” he asks Dr. Saroja Pandey. In reply, the doctor discouraged him from choosing a home delivery over a health facility-based childbirth. “Your sister-in-law needs access to skilled care during childbirth. If you face any difficulty in arranging transportation to take her to a health facility, please talk to your Ward Office or local government.” The gynecologist summarized her message to Poudel, saying: “Skilled health workers should attend to all births, as timely treatment can make the difference between life and death for both the mother and the baby.”
The Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (ACORAB) and its Community Information Network (CIN) in partnership with UNDP, UN Women and UNFPA started the radio show, “Jeevan Rakshya” immediately after the global pandemic and the resulting lockdown started taking toll on the lives and livelihoods of the people across the country. At a time when people did not have access to the relevant authorities due to the restricted mobility, the radio program served as an effective communication means to put forth their grievances to the concerned officials. Within just two months, from April to May 2020, more than 1,500 people were directly connected to their respective leaders and authorities in the local government to resolve their problems. Through its hotline, CIN receives and records over 100 calls from people across the country every day.