Remote local unit in Gorkha enhancing public access to informationDharche Rural Municipality has employed heralds and used radio services to disseminate information in highlands.
The residents of Dharche, a remote, far-flung rural municipality in Gorkha district, have poor access to information. The rural municipality is now making efforts to address the information void created by the absence of information-sharing mediums, especially in the highlands where the local herders spend a majority of their time.
The municipal office, in what it terms the most effective method to engage with the local residents, has launched a campaign wherein one herald, also known as village criers, has been employed per village to disseminate information.
“The slogan for the campaign is ‘Ek Wada Ek Katuwal’ translated to one ward one herald. We provide monthly wages to heralds as an encouragement allowance,” said Santosh Gurung, chairman of Dharche Rural Municipality. “People in Dharche do not speak or understand Nepali. So all our communication programmes will be executed in the local Gurung language and dialect for the benefit of the local people.”
The rural municipality has employed seven Katuwals in Uhiya, Lapu, Gumda, Kerauja and Kashigaun.
Besides employing heralds, the rural municipality also plans to use radio services to disseminate information to the public. Last week, the municipal office distributed 20 radio sets to cattle herders living in the highland areas.
“There are mobile sheds in highlands where the herders live most of the year. We plan to run information programmes on radio networks to help herders understand the treatment available for their livestock,” Thakur Dhakal, chief at the Livestock Services Unit in the rural municipality, told the Post.
One of the recipients of the radio sets last week was Saila Gurung, a resident of Dharche Ward No. 3. Saila says he is looking forward to receiving crucial information about animal husbandry and government programmes through the radio.
“We miss out on important government grants and plans and policies because we don’t get the information on time,” he said. “Radio programmes will help us get timely information.”
The rural municipality also plans to run educational as well as entertainment programmes aimed at herders in the highland areas who spend months cut off from the outside world.
According to Gurung, the chairman of the rural municipality, telephone services are not available in the highland areas as there are no telephone towers installed there.
“Herders have no means to communicate with the outside world in highland areas. The radio programmes will keep them abreast of what’s happening in their villages and across the country while in the highlands,” Gurung said.
“We have prioritised information-friendly programmes targeting both Nepali and Gurung language speakers,” said Gurung. “The programmes will also benefit senior citizens in the villages who do not use Nepali as their primary language.”
In the current fiscal year, the rural municipality has allocated Rs 200,000 for the radio distribution programme. “The rural municipal office will evaluate the effectiveness of the programme and decide whether to continue it in the next year or not,” said Gurung. “Besides radio programmes, we also rely heavily on heralds to disseminate information in remote areas.”
The rural municipality will also run a toll-free line named ‘Hello Gaule Pramukh’ to receive and provide information to its citizens.