Strengthen Resilience to Violent Extremism through Community Radio in Bangladesh
Under the context of frequent incidents of violent extremism in different parts of Bangladesh during 2016 and 2017, it was emerging need to address the issue with due importance. Government of Bangladesh, NGOs and Civil Society Organization also took the special program on preventing violent extremism.
Bangladesh NGO Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC) implemented six months long an action research pilot project titled - Strengthening Resilience to Violence and Extremism through Community Radio having the partnership with two community radio stations – Community Radio Serabela in Gaibandha and Community Radio Borendra in Naogaon district. The project was supported by Democracy International.
The action research pilot project has emphasized on community engagement for Countering Violence Extremism (CVE) through radio programs and outreach activities for social mobilization. Radio program included live discussion which is popularly known as the talk show, magazine programs, broadcast of Public Service Announcement (PSA) and theme song. The outreach activities included group meetings, multi-stakeholders gathering, courtyard meeting, the formation of youth listeners club etc.
The project played a catalyst role in connecting the Government Departments with the unemployed local youth groups for employment generation. The concerned senior officials of the Department of Youth, Department of Women Affairs shared the information for youth engagement for entrepreneurship and skill development schemes. This effort was taken with key target of youth engagement in income-generating activities so that they have less attention for violent incidents.
The project contributed in taking paradigm shift in thoughts and perception of the community on violent extremism, as most of the community people had traditional attitude to see the violent extremism as a religious only, but their engagement in project activities such as participation in talk shows, magazine program, and outdoor discussion sessions resulted in new knowledge, attitudes and perceptions to consider the issue with a broader aspects and they started to contribute societal role in addressing the issue.
Community engagement in project activities was very much encouraging- the evidence shows that during live talk show two radio stations received 600 telephone calls and among them, 343 callers were responded by the panelists. In every episode of the talk show, three guest resource persons from the local community were participated in events to share and attend the listeners’ queries.
Another success of this project is that mostly the community owned the project activities; they considered the project interventions for their safety and resilience. This commitment was reflected in some volunteer contribution of the participants- a female college teacher has conducted a separate session with the students on Countering Violence Extremism issues apart from her regular academic classes.
Besides, 30 youth listeners formed a listeners club particularly to assist this project, the volunteers mobilized the community for their engagement with project outreach activities- such as group meeting with guardians, teachers, journalists, parents, marginalized communities etc. The community response was beyond to the expectation as more people participated in project activities and engaged themselves in social mobilization events.
The project contributed in better understanding on violent extremism, effective community engagement, promoted parental and societal role, enhanced working relation with GoB officials, youth engagement with public service on skill development, entrepreneurship opportunity and utilization of social media for preventing violent extremism.
BNNRC has played the facilitating and monitoring role in implementing this project which contributed in achieving the project target and completion of work within the time frame. Again, BNNRC also played supportive role in the enhancement of knowledge partnership with community broadcasters and the community targeted under this project.
STRIVE Project Team have innovation for sustainability of this project learning, the radio stations continued to broadcast the PSA as part of their social accountability, other key messages will also be included in some other radio programs and the project team will utilize their professionalism, learning, and connectivity with society for other programs of the radio stations.
The project had a significant contribution to knowledge sharing, sensitize the community on CVE issues and imparting resilience to the community to address the issues. Learning and experience from this project can be replicated in other similar projects in coming days.