Swedish Ambassador Helena Gröndahl Rietz and a high level delegation from the Swedish Development Agency (Sida) visited a community-based radio station in the Jordan Valley Friday and met with organizers and volunteers as well as local officials.
The visit, part of an overview of development in the region, was organized by the Amman-based Community Media Network and the valley’s National Society for Rehabilitation which is hosting Sawt al Ghwar. The station is broadcasting on the internet (aghwar.fm) and is hoping to get an FM license. They followed reports from the journalist volunteers about problems of classroom overcrowding and sewage related environmental problems.
Fathi Hwemli the director of the charity said that having a locally owned community radio station is a long time goal. “Our community has yearned to have a media vehicle that can truly reflect the problems and aspirations of the people in the southern Jordan Valley.”
Ambassador Rietz expressed the importance of diplomats to get out of the capital and see and experience problems facing the local communities saying she was proud to learn about this unique media project.
Ahmad Ouni the mayor of southern Ghor municipality thanked the Swedish delegation saying that this is one of the few times that diplomats have traveled south of the Dead Sea to meet local communities.
Ahlamd Ushush assistant head of social affairs called on the Swedish ambassador to carry the pains of the people of the Jordan valley to other diplomats in Amman.
Arwa Awni a volunteer told the visitors that she joined the project because of her passion to help local community and to use media to empower people and to get their ideas to those in power.
A signing ceremony was held after the visit that focuses on supporting the nascent radio station. Daoud Kuttab director General of Community media network signed a memorandum of understanding with Fathi Hwemel of the National Society for Rehabilitation that will include support in training and exchange of programming. The station is hoping to apply for an FM license soon.
The Sida delegation included Ewa Werner Dahlin, Head of Department for Asia, North Africa and Humanitarian Assistance and Anders Frankenberg, Head of MENA Unit as well as Muna Barghout regional program manager with SIDA based in Amman. Local government and security officials as well as members of the Association’s board and volunteers attended the meeting.
Sawat al Aghwar is part of the Sida-funded Aswatona project launched in 2012 by Community Media Network in seven Arab countries. The program includes support for the establishment of community radio stations, and supports activities aimed at improving the enabling legislative and administrative environment for community broadcasting in the MENA region.