25 Aug 2021 Nepal project uses community radio to address Indigenous health inequities
As the Covid-19 pandemic stretches into its second year, and as new “variants of concern” continue to circulate worldwide, there are heightened concerns that Indigenous communities such as those in Nepal will continue to be disproportionately affected because of their vulnerability and lack of visibility.
To help address the challenge, WACC and Cultural Survival are co-funding a project that will enable the Indigenous Rights Foundation and the Indigenous Community Radio Network (ICRN) to jointly document best practices on health communication during the pandemic and share them with other communities. They will also continue advocacy efforts around access to health care and vaccines among local Indigenous communities.
“There is an also a need to promote Indigenous knowledge to adapt to pandemic: Indigenous food and culture, the culture of sharing and caring for their elders and children, their traditional practices of isolation, and the role of their customary institutions in spreading of information,” says the Indigenous Rights Foundation and the ICRN in their project description. “Over the past 18 months, ICRN has been successful in reaching Indigenous communities with health information.”
The project will include training 50 Indigenous journalists, the production of 20 radio programmes on health rights, interactive meetings focused on policy, and the publication of best practices around the use of Indigenous communication to advance access to health.
WACC is proud to partner once again with the Indigenous Rights Foundation and the Indigenous Community Radio Network (ICRN) of Nepal. These two organizations are not only at the forefront in the struggle for Indigenous rights in Nepal, but they are also playing a key role in advocating for changes to Nepal’s media and telecommunication legislation and policy in order to make it more transparent, democratic, and inclusive of Indigenous people’s concerns, said Lorenzo Vargas, WACC Program Manager.
The Indigenous Rights Foundation is a Nepalese civil society organization founded by Indigenous journalists that runs and manages ITVNepal, a satellite television channel that reaches Indigenous communities in different Indigenous languages. ICRN is an umbrella organization of 21 Indigenous radio across Nepal, which aims to enhance and promote the capacity of Indigenous community radio stations so that they are able “to contribute to the positive transformation of the communities they serve, especially in relation to access to information in Indigenous languages and freedom of expression.”
Photo above: People in in Nepal during the COVID-19 pandemic, by Saroj Basnet for ICCO/ACT Alliance