"We talked with the Directorates of Employment and Development and the municipality. We had proposals and wanted to know how they could help in the future. We didn't want promises and words, we wanted action. And we can feel that some changes have happened."
In Jordan, a community radio project is helping marginalized people take to the airwaves of a local radio station. As a result, their voices are being heard by their families, the wider community and local decision makers.
In 2010, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme together with UNDP and its local implementing partner, the Queen Zein Al Sharaf Institute for Development (ZENID), chose the Zarqa area, with the third highest unemployment rate and the largest population of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Jordan, as a target for the "Takalam" (Arabic, meaning "to speak out") project.
The project, coordinated by the Government of Jordan, aims to empower the marginalized and disadvantaged members of society and include them in the local development debate. Community Development Committees (CDCs) have been set up to address the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), women, youth and persons with disabilities.
In total, the community radio project team has mobilized about 100 community volunteers in the various aspects of the project.
The largest in overall numbers is the women's committee, which has been particularly successful with local women, who have been actively participating in the periodic round tables and public dialogues. The women are embracing the opportunity to have their voices be heard in identifying the challenges and formulating the plans to tackle them.
Safeh Sa'adh Abh, a housewife and member of the Committee for Women was happy to find the linkage between the concerned community members and the responsible authorities.
We talked with the Directorates of Employment and Development and the municipality. We had proposals and wanted to know how they could help in the future. We didn't want promises and words, we wanted action. And we can feel that some changes have happened.
-- Safeh Sa'adh Abh, a housewife and member of the Committee for Women
By providing training both on the MDGs and in producing relevant radio messages, the project built the participants' capacity to engage with local radio and municipal officials. The messages were broadcast across the Zarqa and Amman governorates on the Farah Al Nas radio station on programs such as "Takalam", which is the local name for the community radio project.
UNV and their partners have helped women to share information. Volunteering through the community radio project has empowered rural women to be able to express their opinions directly. It has made them aware that the issues they highlight will have an impact on the development of their community.
As a result, civil society organizations and local authorities in Jordan have better access to the voices of local communities, facilitating their efforts to formulate locally sensitive MDGs/poverty alleviation plans and projects.