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Promoting understanding of local air pollution implications

Radio stories and journalist engagement in Nepal and Pakistan

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Since radio has both a large user base and low barrier to access, it is an important platform to build public awareness. From our Atmosphere Programme, our media partnerships in 2021 have evolved into cost-sharing partnerships with umbrella radio networks in Nepal and Pakistan to amplify co-created air pollution messages in the form of science-based reporting.This year, we worked with 43 environmental journalists – 21 of whom are women – from across Pakistan and Nepal to first help them better understand and then report on air pollution-related issues. Following an interactive session on the many facets of air pollution and its impacts on the environment and society between our scientists and the journalists, 16 journalists developed 10 radio stories and five public service announcements in local languages, which were further dubbed into local dialects and widely broadcast. In both countries, the stories contextualised a particular air pollution issue in one specific locality.

As an evaluation mechanism to further refine these activities, in Nepal we conducted a ‘narrowcasting’ session with 15 women from a mothers’ group. This narrowcasting allowed us to take before and after measurements of the participants’ awareness and knowledge. After listening to the radio messages, every one of the participants said they clearly understood the content of the audio story and learned new information, with some also making incisive suggestions to make the message even more informative.

Assisting journalists in understanding the science of air pollution has allowed us to leverage mass media to strengthen public understanding of the various dimensions of this alarming problem

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