India: Kollam Fishermen Safe Thanks To A Community Radio
There are only a few professions in which workers put their life at risk. Fishermen do just that when they go out to the sea, sometimes without knowing what is going to happen out there. After all their lives are dependent on the weather.
Radio Benziger, a Kollam-based community radio station, has taken the initiative to make the local fishermen’s lives safer. It broadcasts marine weather forecast thrice a day which is very useful for these fisher folks.
Indian National Centre For Ocean Information Sciences (INCOIS) disseminates ‘ocean state forecasting’ to Radio Benziger. On the basis of the feedback and their own validation INCOIS claims that they are more than 80% accurate which, according to them, is a very impressive figure. They provide information on wind direction, wind speed, wave height, currents and other parameters with a three hourly interval. It can also be customised for a daily parameter also.
Praphul George, Radio Benziger co-ordinator, says, “We have excellent feedback from fisher folks. Though the traditional fishermen know a lot about the weather this is still very useful, especially for the new generation who are not experts when in comes to traditional knowledge. It takes only around 2.5 to 3 minutes to broadcast it once.” He adds, “It gives us satisfaction to know that our service can save lives.”
Dr. R Hari Kumar, scientist in charge of ocean state forecasting in INCOIS, says, “We collaborate with many NGOs and other agencies to disseminate our information. We can even forecast five days ahead. Also, the information is more useful if it can be localised as much as possible.”
The authorities of Radio Benziger say that they are doing a service. They do not care whether there is profit or not. If a community radio service can make this much of a difference then why not collaborate the effect and spread it throughout Kerala or India?
Also, folks at Radio Benziger says that they have the necessary Government infrastructure to provide any radio station with the data. The question is why these facilities are not being used.
Kerala has a coastline of around 590 kilometers. The population of fisherfolk in Kerala is estimated at about 10.85 lakhs (about a million people). It means there are a lot of people out there who need this facility. It is just a matter of initiative, either by the Government or by other humanitarian agencies to provide information that can be a life saver!
About Radio Benziger:
Radio Benziger is a community radio engaged in the effort to empower people especially those belonging to the marginalized segments in the city of Kollam in order to continuously develop the quality of their life in all its aspects. It strives to achieve this by providing a platform where the members of the community come together to interact and share information, knowledge and skills regarding issues that concern them and through a participatory process of decision making for continuous development.