—-North Western Province Minister, Nathaniel Mubukwanu, has said community radio stations are key tools to development for any area.
Mr Mubukwanu said such radio stations give the general public an opportunity to actively participate in national development.
Speaking during the handover of the Lukulu FM community radio station project to the board in Lukulu district in Western Province yesterday, Mr Mubukwanu said in as much as the media are important, it should always remain relevant to the community it serves.
He said the coming of Lukulu FM Radio will help the community access developmental information as the area is faced with lack of access to regular media which is supposed to be accessed country wide.
Acting Executive Director, Sombo Chunda, said Diakonia is confident that the communities of Lukulu district will be able to sustain the project as they have already demonstrated their capability during the establishment of the radio station.
Mrs Chunda said the similar project has been implemented in eleven districts of North Western and Western Provinces with the objective of enhancing the role of media in political governance process by 2013.
“The specific objective is to advocate and lobby government on political governance issues using evidence based approach by 2013 and to enhance the role of media in political governance process,” she said
Mrs Chunda pointed out that construction of the radio station in the district should be complimented by the construction of the road leading to the district which will bring about development and which Mr Mubukwanu said would be done in two years’ time.
And Swedish representative, Oskar Karneback, said the media play an important role in ensuring the transparency of a society by acting as a platform for exchanging information.
Mr Karneback said the media also help ensure accountability of public administration by highlighting the actions of public officials and correcting the natural asymmetries of information between governed and governing.
“Without a diverse and plural media environment that provides widespread access to information and debate, democratic politics cannot flourish and government cannot be held accountable for its actions by wider population,” said Karneback.
He called on the radio station to take responsibility to act as a public distributor of information on development country wide as well as on provincial and district level.
“But community radio stations must also facilitate debate on topical issues of concern for the community and make sure to reflect all viewpoints in debates,” he added.
Mr Karneback said Zambia has been one of the biggest recipients through Swedish aid since 1964 with the overall objective of contributing to poverty reduction.
Meanwhile, Irish Aid Head of development cooperation, Patrick McManus, described the occasion as an important one, saying the station will enable the community of Lukulu not just to have access to information but also to be able to disseminate information about the community to the rest of the country.
Mr McManus urged the community to take ownership of the radio station as it is a community initiative, adding that it is the only way they will be able to sustain themselves even beyond.
Earlier, Lukulu Acting District Commissioner, Kufuka Kufuka, said the radio station will be disseminating information to about 28 000 people in the district.
Mr Kufuka noted that the station will also be able to help the nation appreciate the hardships being faced in the area.
The event was attended by district heads of government departments, Sioma, Kaoma and Mitete District Commissioners, the Barotse Royal Establishment and the community among others.
The project was funded by the European Union (EU) and a Swedish International non-governmental organization, Diakonia at a cost of about KR 355, 000 with the aim of promoting the effectiveness of political governance in Zambian, targeting rural communities.