MAZAR-E SHARIF, Balkh province, Afghanistan – The Afghan Uniformed Police (AUP) opened a new radio station in Mazar-e Sharif, Feb. 15.
The station functions just as civilian stations do operating on the FM dial, providing news and entertainment, but will also act as a means for the police to immediately reach the population in the northern province of Balkh. While much of the programming is presently pre-recorded, the Afghan police broadcasters conduct live news reports and have the ability to break in to programming at any time with important announcements.
The intention behind the radio project, whose equipment was financed with help by International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), was to inform the rural population about security relevant incidents in their districts. The radio station also provides information to raise awareness about the role of the police and the rule of law. In addition, it gives a platform for the population to express complaints about the Afghan Uniformed Police in their districts.
“In a country with a high level of illiteracy, radio is a suitable way of communication. We hope that the radio station will help to address large parts of the population and receive their awareness of their civic rights,” a representative of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development said.
Afghan civilian radio and television stations were on-hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a press conference with the AUP 303rd Regional Northern Zone Commander, Lt. Gen. Baba Jan. The commander thanked the police broadcasters for their dedication and hard work, and praised the coalition team’s efforts to make this project a reality.
Many of the citizens outside the major population centers in northern Afghanistan do not have access to television broadcasts, while others do not have electricity, so a battery-powered or hand crank radio is their only link to the outside world. By tuning in to FM 91.0, Afghans in Balkh can listen to music, hear local news of interest, and obtain critical emergency information in the event of a natural disaster or emergency directly from the protectors of the province, the police.
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, with funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), has already conducted different activities at the 303rd Pamir Headquarters, among others, legal training for female police officers and members of the Human Rights departments within Regional Command North.
“It’s a very professional radio station,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Greg Massey, 303rd AUP Headquarters Advisor. “Their programming is designed for police information, police news, as well as local city news. They have reporters that go out and get stories, and then develop reports for the on-air audience.”
As northern provinces are transferred to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the people are increasingly dependent on Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to provide a stable place to live, work and attend school. The immediacy of radio helps the police carry out that responsibility.
The radio station is currently pumping out 500 watts of power, but plans are in the works to increase the output to 1,000 watts or more in the near future. To put it into perspective, the majority of the province’s inhabitants will be able to pick up the Afghan police radio station signal.
“I think the radio station is a great way to keep the local populace informed, not only with news, but with natural disaster information,” Massey said. “I’m sure someday they would like to have the same type of communication through the news that we have in the U.S. This is definitely the first step they need to develop a good long-term communications program.”
The 37th IBCT provided the police with nearly 300 small hand crank radios to be distributed to the less-connected Balkh communities.
“The radios pick up FM, shortwave and medium wave broadcasts,” according to Sgt. 1st Class Greg Sewell, 37th IBCT Military Information Support Operations. “They can be hand cranked because a lot of Afghans don’t have electricity. They can even charge their cell phone with it due to a solar cell and the connections it has. It’s a pretty nifty item.”
The GIZ plans to continue the support for the radio station by providing on-the-job-training in order to make the station more professional. The training shall include editorial and program training as well as broadcasting and life programming. In addition, training in fundraising and marketing are planned in order to acquire further funding and make the radio station self-sustainable.
With the safety and well-being of Balkh province residents in mind, this new radio station will fundamentally add to the Afghan Uniformed Police capabilities in creating a bond between the people and the laws that govern them. Through cooperative efforts like this one between Germany, ISAF and ANSF, people in northern Afghanistan gain a better chance at a brighter future.
There are no comments yet. Why not be the first to speak your mind.