September 6, 2013. Kathmandu. The South Asian Community Radio conference on ‘Enhancing the Role of Community Radio and Promoting Positive Social Change’ was inaugurated by the Honorable Minister of Information and Communication of the Government of Nepal Mr. Madhav Prasad Paudel. Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Paudel urged the gathering to focus on learning from each other’s good practices in the South Asian region and focus on pursuing jointly development targets at a regional level, including cross-country and cross-border issues. He also apprised the conference of the ongoing efforts in Nepal to review media policies and efforts underway to ensure smooth operation of community radios in the country’s current transitional period.

Also speaking on the occasion, Mr. Dhurba Prasad Sharma, Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communication, Government of Nepal outlined as priority areas of work the need to raise awareness about citizens right to own and operate community-based media, to institutionalize legislative recognition of community broadcasting, and to build community media skills and capacity of local community groups and networks. He reaffirmed his Ministry’s commitment to work with the Community Radio sector in Nepal for achieving those targets.

Speaking at the inaugural session, H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary General of SAARC applauded the role played by community radios in ensuring social harmony and propagating development, and assured of his office’s support  for the development of the sector in the region.

Mr. Ashish Sen, President of AMARC Asia Pacific highlighted the ten point strategy that was declared by the gathering of community broadcasters in the 2nd AMARC Asia Pacific Regional Conference held in Bangalore in 2010 and the ongoing efforts at national and regional levels by the community radio sector for implementing the plan to achieve policy reform, sustainability, access to technology, and knowledge sharing and capacity building. Highlighting the objectives of the conference, he underscored the role played by AMARC Asia Pacific and its allies in the South Asian region in working with policy makers, practitioners, academics and activists in ensuring that a sustainable growth of community broadcasting in the region is achieved at an increasing pace.

The conference on ‘Enhancing the Role of Community Radio and Promoting Positive Social Change’ is being organised jointly by the SAARC Information Centre (SIC) and the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC Asia Pacific) from 6-8 September 2013 in Kathmandu. Approximately 40 policy makers and community radio broadcasters as well as advocates from the eight SAARC countries are participating. The South Asia Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) alliance includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The seminar will also be participated by representatives of national associations, donor representatives and strategic partners of community radio sector in South Asia. The seminar has been supported by UNESCO, Food and Agricultural Association of the United Nations (FAO), and the International Media Support (IMS).