Zaatari Radio is a community-based project run by Acting for Change International, which aims to create a refugee-run radio station to serve people living in Zaatari Village. This project is at the very forefront of contemporary approaches to humanitarian relief; empowering crisis-affected peoples to engage in creative problem-solving to address challenges they face, and to create new opportunities out of these challenges. Where as more traditional approaches to humanitarian work focuses on improving organisational responses, Zaatari Radio engages with the capacities of communities affected by war, empowering these peoples to address the challenges they face in an innovative and pioneering way. Countless published articles present research underlining the incredible work bottom-up approaches to humanitarian innovation has had across the world, nonetheless a significant proportion of humanitarian responses favour a top-down approach whereby the participatory role of war-affected people is disregarded. On the contrary, Zaatari Radio aims to address recent debates regarding humanitarian innovation by offering a people-centred response to crisis in which affected communities are at the forefront of navigating through the difficult environment in which they exist. By supporting Zaatari Radio, you are supporting a refugee-led radio station to serve the community living in Zaatari Village.
Zaatari Radio is run alongside Acting for Change International, a hummanitarian organisation created by Kotaiba Alabdullah, a Syrian humanitarian who relocated to Jordan in 2011. Acting for Change is a community-based organisation that aims empower war-affected people with the means to improve their lives whilst providing aid in locations other organisations do not act. Located roughly two kilometres from Zaatari Refugee Camp, the population of Zaatari Village has more than doubled since the start of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, with the influx of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing conflict - mostly from Homs and Palmyra. It is estimated that over 15,000 Syrian refugees now live in Zaatari Village. Unlike the camp, where many large organisations have operations, the host community of Zaatari is largely unsupported by larger NGOs on any permanent basis. However, Acting For Change commit their work to areas where larger NGOs are unwilling to work, and established their Centre in Zaatari Village as a means to help war-affected children there continue their education and give them the chance to create better futures for themselves.
Working with Acting for Change, Zaatari Radio is a project that will continue to support Zaatari Village and those living there, when larger NGOs are not as willing. The radio station will work with the children of the Training Centre, offering a creative outlet when lessons are not running. The shows that they will create will be of an educational purpose; broadcasting health messages and creative radio shows. In the process of creating the radio station, we can we provide education around the process of radio and its history, and then work together on formulating shows to be broadcast. The founder of Acting for Change, Kotaiba Alabdullah, highlights how the training centre provides psychological support for the children as well as means to forget about their worries for a little while. Following from this mantra, Zaatari Radio has prepared a number of projects for the children to work on that will be accumulate into the station's first radio shows. These have been carefully formulated to not only provide fun, creative projects, but also teach valuable innovative skills to the children. Upcyling is very much a feature of these projects, we will work to teach the children up creating handheld radio receivers and transmitters out of recycled material, as well as turning waste materials into musical instruments.
Radio shows with the children will also act as health campaigns. A recent article published in The Lancet, written by Development Media International, created a model that predicted the life-saving capability of health campaigns through the media based on evidence found in radio work conducted in Burkina Faso. The results were astonishing and brought the power of media in saving lives to the forefront of the world news. The model predicted media campaigns alone can reduce child mortality by 10%, and more cheaply than almost any other health intervention. This discipline defining study has shaped the way Zaatari Radio will formulate shows with the children. Using data published by UNHCR Jordan that highlights health issues within Zaatari region, radio shows will aim to tackle prevalent health problems. For example, UNHCR reported that 72.1% of primary healthcare in the region were down to communicable diseases; diseases past on from person-to-person that can be prevented through changes in attitude and behaviours towards hygiene. The most common communicable disease in the region was Respiratory Tract Infections (RTI), an infection caused by viruses which can be significantly prevented through regularly washing hands, coughing into a tissues then throwing it away and covering the mouth when sneezing. These are issues that we will work with when formulating radio shows with the children form The Centre in a bid to change their behaviour to hygiene, as well changed attitudes of those listening to the broadcast.