Broadcasting through a pandemic – MAP Radio’s information lifeline for migrant workers
Despite navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and amidst escalating civil conflict due to the Military coup in Myanmar, MAP Radio continues to provide essential news, information and resources to vulnerable migrant communities.
Broadcasting despite the challenges
MAP Radio is overcoming many challenges in an effort to continue its broadcasts to migrant workers living in Thailand. Currently operating under greater restrictions due to COVID-19, an ongoing civil conflict on both sides of the border, a military coup in Myanmar and restrictive censorship laws, MAP Radio still manages to fulfill its essential role as a trusted source of information for migrant workers and their families. MAP Radio has committed itself to building and maintaining a unique and reliable media outlet through which to promote and protect the rights of migrants living along the Thai-Myanmar Border. Its sustained power and relevance come from the fact that its staff belong to the communities they serve and the organisation is committed to community engagement.
Broadcasting through a pandemic
With support from Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA, MAP Radio continues to deliver a vital community service despite COVID-19 control measures changing constantly in response to outbreaks. MAP has been able to keep the migrant and refugee community informed with timely and accurate information on a range of topics, including labour rights, labour law, women’s rights, education, health and social issues. Importantly, MAP also provided daily updates on COVID-19 prevention, services, travel and other restrictions as well as cross border migration changes and other news.
Essential news and information is delivered by nineteen multilingual broadcasters through 22 programs over 44.5 hours per week through FM radio and Facebook Live. The programs reach a monthly average audience of about 60,700 people in both Shan and Burmese languages and is supported by a website and mobile app full of resources and additional information.
Training tomorrows broadcasters, today.
In addition to broadcasting essential news and information to vulnerable communities, the MAP Radio project supported by APHEDA also provides training and capacity building of MAP Radio staff and volunteers to maintain a high quality and respected program. Since our last update on MAP Foundation, the project has trained 13 broadcasters on Open Broadcast Systems, and in conducting community feedback sessions (listener reflection sessions) to improve live broadcasts. This is an essential skill in the rapidly changing context of the Thai Myanmar Border.
“Many women (amongst the Thai-Myanmar border migrant community) cannot read and write, but they can listen and watch videos”
A listener to MAP Radio for the past ten years, Ma Thidar said “as a migrant worker, the programs on MAP Radio make us feel satisfied, safe and entertained because content is about occupational safety and health while we are working, and also aout passport and update on migrant policy. So, the educational programs are empowering for us when we have some problems such as passport, employer-worker problems. I like all of the radio programs produced by MAP Radio”
A recent independent evaluation described MAP Radio as a ‘truly one of a kind initiative’. The evaluation found that even under extraordinary conditions, MAP Radio is able to accomplish what perhaps no other information source can – to reach vulnerable migrant communities in Thailand in their own language with vital information.
MAP provides hope even with a dire outlook
This situation on both sides of the Thai Burma Border is dire. COVID-19, escalating civil conflict in Thailand and between ethnic armed groups and the Myanmar military, and the violence and uncertainty of an attempted coup leave many feeling insecure about the future. Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA has stood by MAP Radio and the migrant communities it serves throughout and will continue to provide support to ensure human and labour rights are understood and protected.
The Migrant Assistance Program Foundation (MAP) Alternative Media for Migrants program is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).