The effectiveness of Community Radio Stations in bridging the information gap in Rural Communities: The case of Radio Chikuni in Monze District of Zambia
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Over the years around the world generally and in Zambia particularly, various forms of community media have been used in a bid to bridge the barriers that exist with regard to access to information especially in the rural areas. Community radio is one such media which has been used in Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa with a strong assumption that it has demolished information barriers in rural communities, allowing for effective participation of the rural population in economic, political and social aspects of their communities. Community radio has since become an integral part of the Zambian media landscape. This study was, therefore, an evaluation of the effectiveness of community radio in Zambia in bridging the information gap in rural communities through the case study of radio Chikuni in Monze district in the Southern Province of Zambia. To achieve this goal, the study used a triangulation method to collect both quantitative and qualitative data. A total of 150 people were interviewed through a self-administered questionnaire for quantitative data. For qualitative data, In-depth interview of a total of 15 people from a diverse background and the review of various published data provided invaluable insight into the study. Major outcomes from the research indicate strongly that rural communities, through the use of community radio have greater access to information than before. There is also a strong indication of rural communities overcoming barriers that prevented them from effective participation in the affairs of their areas meaningfully. For instance 92 percent of the respondents agree that they have access to health information, 93.3 percent to education information, 94 percent to agricultural information, 55 percent to Commerce and Trade, 72 percent to gender and justice information and 84.7 percent agreed that they now have access to information on child health information. These findings indicate strongly that community radio stations generally and Radio Chikuni in particular have proved effective in bridging the information gap in rural communities as it has razed down barriers to information access previously predominate in this rural community and have now given a voice to enable them effectively participate in the political, economic and social life of their community.