Community Radio in Bangladesh

This picture, also drawn on the side of the school, shows a family listening for news of the weather.
BBC Radio Bangladesh, via Flickr

In the country of Bangladesh, community radio stations are giving information and help to their communities. Robin Basselin and Ryan Geertsma look at these stations.

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Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Robin Basselin.

Voice 2 

And I’m Ryan Geertsma. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

Mohammad Haroon is a farmer. He lives in the Amtali costal area of Bangladesh. This area suffers many severe storms and floods. These conditions make farming difficult. Flooding can kill a year’s crop. But for farmers like Haroon, there are also long term effects. Flooding often leaves too much salt in the soil.

Voice 2 

One day Haroon was listening to his local community radio station - Krishi Radio. He heard local farmers talking about a new kind of rice seed – BINA-7 dhan. This seed is not affected by salt in the soil. So, Haroon decided to try it. He told the Inter Press Service.

Voice 3 

"I harvested ‘BINA-7 dhan’ successfully... I was encouraged to grow the new kind of rice after I heard other farmers on Krishi Radio. They said they too got a good harvest from it."

Voice 1 

Today’s Spotlight is on the growing number of community radio stations in Bangladesh. These stations are saving lives and helping local farmers and fishermen deal with climate change.

Voice 2 

“My radio, my voice.” This is the slogan of Krishi Radio FM 98.8. These words express the goal and purpose of the new radio station. Krishi Radio began in November 2011. It was the first community radio station in the country area of Bangladesh. Krishi Radio broadcasts in the local language.

Voice 1 

It broadcasts programs that interest and help the local people. And it gives weather information many times each day. As a result, Krishi Radio has become very popular in its area.

Voice 2 

But Krishi Radio is not the only radio station like this in Bangladesh. It is one of many new community radio stations. These stations are part of recent efforts by the Bangladeshi government and local organizations.

Voice 1 

Bangladesh has a large coast on the Indian Ocean. It also has many rivers. Each year the country suffers fierce storms like cyclones and monsoons. At times, the wind and rain of these storms is very harmful.

Voice 2 

Many people say climate change is making the weather worse. They believe it is causing the storms to happen more often. They also believe the storms are more extreme. Rebecca Sultan lives in Bangladesh. In 2007, a cyclone storm destroyed her village. In 2009, another cyclone did the same thing. She told The Guardian news organization,

Voice 4 

"The difference we have all seen in the weather in just a few years is great. Now we are getting sudden rains. We do not know when to expect them. The water levels rise faster. The water carries away greater amounts of our soil. And our land and water contain more salt. We used to know when the seasons would change. Now they change suddenly and unexpectedly.”

Voice 1

Many of the towns affected most by the severe weather are far from big cities. People in these areas often speak different dialects or versions of the Bengali language. But the government still needs to announce storm warnings. And it needs to share other information that would help people deal with the effects of sudden storms.

Voice 2 

So in 2008, the government decided to act. They established a new policy. They called it the Community Radio Installation, Broadcast and Operation Policy. This policy permitted not for profit organizations to begin community radio stations. It also established rules for these stations.

Voice 1 

Each community radio station has to broadcast to an area of at least 17 kilometers from its center. Its programs should be produced in the community’s local language dialect. And the programs should cover the interests, needs, and culture of the community.

Voice 2 

Many of the community radio stations give weather reports often. This helps the community radio station warn listeners early about coming storms. These early warnings give fishermen time to return to land before the storm arrives. They give people time to prepare for the storms. Some stations even create special programs that teach about what to do during an emergency.

Voice 1 

Manir Hossain manages Lokobetar community radio. The station serves the Barguna area of southern Bangladesh. In April of 2012, there was a tsunami storm watch along the coast. Experts thought the storm might be very harmful. So, Lokobetar community radio acted. Hossain told the Christian Science Monitor,

Voice 5 

“Through our programs we advised people. We told them what they needed to do for their safety during the emergency.”

Voice 2 

Receiving information before and during storms is important for survival on the coasts of Bangladesh. But the community radio stations know that climate change often means people need to find new ways to work after storms. Tarun Kumar manages another community radio station in Bangladesh. He also broadcasts programs chosen for the particular people in his community. He told the Christian Science Monitor,

Voice 6 

“Through our programs we advise fishermen. We advise them how to find other kinds of work. We also speak to policymakers. We encourage them to act so that fishing communities do not remain hungry and unfed.”

Voice 1 

Mohammad Sharif Iqbal manages Krishi Radio. He told Inter Press Service what his station does for the particular people in his community.

Voice 7 

“Agriculture is the most affected by climate change. So we thought creating special programmes for farmers would be an excellent idea.”

Voice 2 

Through these programs, community radio stations like Krishi Radio are also making the jobs of government workers easier. Zakia Sultana Baby is an agriculture officer in Bangladesh. The increasing amount of salt in the soil is hurting the economy in the coastal region. So she works to teach farmers about the best ways they can use their land. To do this work, she visits farmers in their fields. But now she also works with Krishi Radio. She says community radio has helped her work.

Voice 8

“Such visits and demonstrations can now be reduced. We explain every detail about growing a new crop during our live discussions over the radio.”

Voice 1 

There are now 14 community radio stations operating in Bangladesh. And there are many more waiting for government approval. A.H.M. Bazlur Rahman is the chief executive officer of the Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication. He believes the stations are already achieving their goals. He believes they are helping the communities to survive and deal with climate change. He told the Christian Science Monitor:

Voice 9 

“The radio stations operate with the involvement of the local people. These stations have already gained popularity. They are telling people how to change to survive the climate change effects... Most of the people who live away from the cities cannot read or write. But now they too can easily understand weather reports and other directions when they are provided in local languages.”

Voice 2 

The writer of this program was Courtney Schutt. The producer was Mark Drenth. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can find our programs on the internet at This program is called “Community Radio in Bangladesh.”

Voice 1 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.


Do you get information from listening to the radio? What kinds of things do you listen to?


Avatar Spotlight
Rain Bows
said on July 27, 2012

It is awesome, that some people work with the idea of helping the others having a better live as a main reason.
Nice program.


Avatar Spotlight
said on September 17, 2013

This system is excellent to farmers help with crops, because some of them are forgotten for the authorities, the studios about the soil and weather are important to harvest a good product.
Many farmers have lost their crops due lack of helping of the governments, who should take priority to farmers, because they get the food to the people.

Great topic//

Avatar Spotlight
said on September 18, 2013

This is an excellent idea to create the radio stations providing reports about the sudden weather changes, storms, emergency to advise farmers how to deal to safe crop and their own lives too. All people who need these informations can understand because of the broadcasting in the community’s local language, this is the most important fact for them.
Thanks for the great article!

humble71's avatar
said on September 24, 2013

It’s a good way how the radio broadcasts useful programs for the community villagers . Good point for the government at Bangladesh .  And I appreciate the work do the Spotlight team to produce this program with many english accents . Thanks a lot for sharing your effort with people all over the world.

Avatar Spotlight
said on November 25, 2014

coastal (Mohammad Haroon is a farmer.  He lives in the Amtali costal area of Bangladesh)

Avatar Spotlight
Mss Flamboyant
said on November 25, 2014

Farmers often have to suffer from climate change so local community radio station establishing, is the best program which is useful for farmers and residents.

Avatar Spotlight
said on November 27, 2014

Vietnam is a tropical country. Storms are always every years. So people have a preparation to deal to storms. The goverment has a radio frequency to announce fishermen about storms. However, every years have thousands people die, lost on ocean. Hundreds hectare crops were destroyed by storms. It is very severely and terrible.

Avatar Spotlight
said on February 10, 2020

Yes I got them. I used to listen to news and music, also I like very much podcast of everything in English. Thanks Spotlight! Carlo