(KABUL, Afghanistan) Thousands of Afghan schoolchildren, refugees, nomads, and people living in remote villages have better access to news and information today than they did three months ago.
RFE's Radio Azadi has completed its distribution of 20,000 solar-powered, hand-cranked radios throughout Afghanistan. The project, which began on September 17, targeted people in rural and remote areas where high illiteracy rates make radio the primary means of receiving information.
"This radio will help me pay closer attention to what's going on in Kabul," said one elder at a refugee camp. "All of us will now be able to raise our voices more and participate in national decisions like elections."
Radio Azadi Kabul Bureau Chief Amin Mudaqiq coordinated the project and said he hopes there will be more initiatives of this kind in the future.
“We've given 20,000 people a chance to connect more easily with their government and their surroundings, regionally and beyond," he says. "This is a small but important contribution to supporting a well-informed citizenry, which is so important for the future development of our country.”
At two girls' schools in Deh Dadi in Mazar-e-Sharif, hundreds of students received radios. In Central Afghanistan, Radio Azadi brought radios to Kuchi nomads in Ghazni Province.
"Most Kuchis are not well-informed about national and international events," said one leader of the tribe. "These portable radios will help connect us to the world."
The first delivery took place at a refugee camp near Kabul [see this AP report from the scene]. Since then, Radio Azadi has handed out radios to internally displaced persons at other camps, including the Shaidaye refugee camp east of Herat and the Mukhtar camp in Helmand.
The radios themselves are produced by US-based Eton Corporation and are equipped with solar panels and a hand-crank for easy, battery-free charging.
Radio Azadi cooperated with the Afghan Air Force and ISAF in order to reach some of the more remote and isolated locations via helicopter. On the ground, the station has been working with local authorities, community leaders, and the Afghan police to coordinate and secure the distribution effort.
Click here for a detailed recap of the project and PHOTOGALLERY.
About Radio Azadi
In the eight years since RFE launched Radio Azadias part of an effort to help build a peaceful and democratic Afghanistan, the station has become the most popular media outlet in the country (Source: Intermedia). For more on Afghanistan, check out RFE's new "Gandhara" blog.