HAALCHAL – A Radio Show to Support Flood Survivors

The launch of a 45 min long Radio Show in local language (Maithali) have brought flood survivors together to discuss their problems in Saptari district of South East Nepal

©Ishwar Rauniyar
Presenter Shyam Sundar and guest Lokendra Yadav

By Ishwar Rauniyar, Communication Officer
This show has become a platform for the communities where they can directly ask questions to the government authorities and experts through live phone-in conversation about the problems they are facing now.
It’s 2 PM now – one of the ladies receives a call. Everyone becomes quite. On the phone someone is asking the lady about the situation of the area. And the radio show HAALCHAL kicks off. “We are facing several problems related to drinking water – our tube wells were submerged in the flood so that the water is not clean. Everyone is getting ill. Some are affected with diarrheal diseases, fever, skin allergy etc. What could be the ways to get rid of such problem?” The first episode opens up, with the question of Jeevan Devi Dev, a local in the area. She was followed by Fekeni Devi Mandal who demanded water filter.
The guest of the programme, Lokendra Dev Yadav, Chief of the Water Supply & Sanitation Division Office (WSSDO), Saptari, answered that just 20 minutes before coming to the studio a ‘Water Quality Test Ambulance’ has arrived in the district – he has already mobilized the ambulance to different areas including Inaruwa village.
“However, if the ambulance hasn’t reached your area then you can call and ask them to come and check your tube well water,” He then gives his own and the ambulance focal person’s phone number in thelive show. “If the tube well water is contaminated, then look for other taps. Also please adopt local filtering methods – you can either use water filter, boil water before drinking, use water purifying tablets that we have been distributing in different places. You can also keep the water bottle for at least four hours in the sun. This is called Solar water disinfection ('SoDis') method of water purification. This will also help to purify water and make it consumable. Regarding your demand of water filter – we do not have those at the moment. We are coordinating with other agencies and will also write this to higher authorities.” Responding to one of the questions, that women are having a tough time with the lack of toilets, he expressed his commitment that temporary toilets will be arranged for very soon.
The discussion becomes lively. People asked several questions that were on their mind to the Mr. Lokendra Dev Yadav, present in the studio, which they had not been able to find answers to elsewhere. He tried to answer all the questions – most of the questions were related to the drinking water.
“This has given us an opportunity to reach out to the affected people,” told Lokendra Dev Yadav after the programme. “We cannot go to every household in every village but we can contact them in this way, get to know about their problems and plan further to address through such radio programmes.” He added that even with the water testing ambulance, he got platform to inform thousands of people in one go.
Ram Lakhan Mandal, a community member said that he was happy that he got a chance to talk to the chief of WSSDO and express his problem.
“I am hopeful that things will happen, as the chief has promised,” he says.

Concept of the Radio Programme

When visiting the flood affected areas – many people complained that they didn’t receive any relief materials. They were also confused where they should go with their queries and problems. There was nobody around to answer their questions. After talking to them and getting to know their situation we immediately got an idea, why not launch a radio show that will bring communities together – and let their problems become known to the government authorities and others with similar problems.
We discussed in the team and agreed to launch such programme. The country office was also very much positive towards our idea. And just one day after we got the idea, we were able to launch the programme, HAALCHAL – meaning asking the condition of the flood survivors. Whenever two friends or relatives or anyone meet each other the first question they ask is – HAALCHAL – how are you? So the basic idea is to know the HAALCHAL of flood survivors and let concerned authorities know and initiate to address their problems.

Volunteers with Radio

Five dedicated volunteers have been selected for the radio show – those who will also be working in the communities to spread hygiene message. Most of them are community health workers. These five volunteers walk into the village with a radio set in their hand. The radio set also has a flash drive with hygiene public service announcements. They play the announcements continuously whenever they walk into the village so that the people know about different hygiene and sanitation techniques. They also gather the communities together and connect them with the Radio Studio where they are given opportunity to ask various questions. They play the radio during live – telephone conversation. The community people can also listen to the radio at the same time so that they know what the stakeholder has been told when the person at the studio answered their queries. They can also cross question – if they are confused or dissatisfied with the answer.

Following Core Humanitarian Standard

Looking at the relevancy of the programme at such situations when flood survivors are waiting for relief and other humanitarian support – the show is also a platform for making accountability to the local authorities, NGOs and other stakeholders. The people can directly ask about the relief and support that will be available to them. They can also provide feedback and complaint if they are not happy with the aid they are receiving. Also it will help concerned stakeholders to know the situation in the areas where they are unable to reach because of geographical difficulties. This will help humanitarian relief workers to give their support to the vulnerable communities. Volunteers will also be able to talk on the radio programme.

About the Show

It’s 45 min show – which now broadcast live at 03.15 pm – 04.00 pm and repeat telecast at 8:00 pm – 8:45 pm in Radio Chhinnamasta 101.4 MZ, Saptari. Government Authorities, Experts, I/NGOs representatives, health professionals among others will be the guest in the programme. Some of the unanswered questions will also be followed up by the radio team. The show will be aired every day for another seven days and will shift to alternative days.

Joint Collaboration

With the funding of DCA, local NGO partner Koshi Flood Victim Society (KVS) have collaborated with Community Radio, Radio Chhinnamasta 101.4 MZ to produce this programme.
The radio also contributed 25% of the production budget to make this programme happen.
“It’s a new programme of this kind in Saptari district,” says Shiva Pratap Shah, Managing Director of the Radio Chhinnamasta 101.4 MZ. “We are excited to be first movers.”