Namibia joined the rest of the world on 13th February 2016 to commemorate World Radio. The national celebrations took place in Gobabis at the Epako Community Hall, Omaheke Region under the global theme “Radio in Times of Emergency and Disaster”.
The Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Namibia, Honourable Netumbo Nandi Ndaitwah officiate the ceremony which also allowed her to interact with the community of Gobabis. She said that “Responding to emergencies is easier and more transparent when there is a platform to disseminate information”. Radio is an inexpensive medium that requires relatively simple technology and its reach extends from policy makers to remote communities and marginalized groups in the quickest possible time. It offers a platform to different groups to intervene in public debates, irrespective of people’s educational level. She added that World Radio Day 2016 will draw people’s attention on the unique role radio plays in times of emergency and disaster. Furthermore, radio has a strong and specific role in emergency communication and disaster relief. Therefore Radio should be part of the entire process before, during and after a disaster making sure that information is disseminated to reach said Hon Netumbo Nandi Ndaitwah.
Giving his introduction remarks the Minister of Information and Communication Technology Honourable Tjekero Tweya emphasised that the media should play its various normative roles which are to inform, entertain and educate the public as well as mobilise people for development. Radio is a powerful medium before, during and after an emergency or a disaster. The impact that radio has in emergency situations is crucial as such some of the emergencies and disasters are not manufactured by human beings he added that “each one of us including the media has a role to play when we respond to such situations” said Hon Tweya.
United Nations Resident Coordinator, Ms. Kiki Gbeho delivered the Message of the UNESCO Director General, Ms. Irina Bokova and also convey the message of the UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki Moon . She said “Free, independent and pluralistic media empower citizens with information that enables them to make informed choices and actively participate in democratic processes.” This helps bring about accountability and transparency by supporting dialogue between law maker and the society. The media is an important stakeholder in promoting peace, tolerance and dialogue between cultures, people, religious and political groups. Ms Gbeho urges the media to help the UN in popularising this new development Agenda – the Sustainable Development Goals. Saying “Information and public awareness campaigns are indispensable tools in making the general public understand the concept of sustainable development and be aware of its importance.”
World Radio Day is a day set aside to celebrate radio as a medium of communication; to improve international cooperation between broadcasters; and to encourage major networks and community radios alike to promote access to information and freedom of expression. Through the 2016 World Radio Day celebrations, the role of radio in times of emergency and disaster is being promoted. Radio plays many functions in our social life and the most important one is the function of companion, said UNESCO Windhoek Head of Office Dr Jean Pierre Ilboudo.
Delivering his welcoming address at the celebration, Governor of Omaheke Region Festus Uitele characterised radio as a critical element for the agricultural sector and livestock farmers in the region in keeping up with global agricultural trends. “Without proper information, our people will be left out. Therefore, the importance of radio cannot be over-emphasised, especially for the farmers and the agricultural sector in the Omaheke Region. It has contributed to the development of the region in its own respect and continues to do so, even today,” he said.
Also speaking during the event, Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Namibia, Jana Hybaskova said radio is a daily guest that brings information and is notably the first ever telecommunication medium of all time. “Radio is a guest of honour and it shares information that is correct, moral and ethical in many regards,” she said.
Hundreds of residents in Gobabis flock to the event and where refresh with food, water, drinks and T-shirts. The main theme for this year is sub divided into five sub themes which are: Freedom of expression, access to information and journalists’ safety should be disaster-proof, Radio empowers survivors and vulnerable people, and Radio has social impact and provides access to information, Radio saves lives and the immediate accessibility of pre-coordinated radio frequencies is essential to saving lives.