Strengthening of Ak'kutan FM: Radio for the Maya of Southern Belize

Year when project approved: 
Approved budget: 
US$24 200.00

The communities in the south are isolated and indigenous ? Mopan and Q'eqchi' Maya. Unfortunately, radio cannot reach many of these villages due to the terrain. This is particularly problematic because these villages also are home to poor, marginalized indigenous people who need access to information and communications technologies. It is imperative that local Maya receive accurate and up-to-date information. Given its accessibility and cost-effectiveness, community radio represents a democratic and participatory medium. People can be united by community radio. Tumul K'in Learning Center already has a satellite dish for internet communications which will allow for the convenient development of multimedia presentations. One reason that these communities are isolated is the terrain. Southern Belize is karst, jagged limestone hills, and Tumul K'in lies in a valley. Currently, Ak'Kutan FM, a small radio radio station set up with the support of UNESCO, is broadcasting to about 200 households. If the transmitter could be placed on a nearby ridge with a wireless link to the station, the audience could be expanded to about 4,000 indigenous households. This project seeks to strengthen the broadcasting capacity of Ak' Kutan FM to provide access to information for an additional 3800 indigenous families of 58 indigenous villages in the Toledo district. The project also aims at enhancing the capacity of the community media practitioner who operate the radio station in radio programme development and sustainabilty of Ak'Kutan FM.

Project details
IPDC Bureau meeting nÂș: 

Implementation status :

Project evaluated:

Project scope:

Budget code: 

Source of funds:

Beneficiary name: 
Indigenous and Rural Communities of Toledo and Tumul K'in Centre of Learning

Beneficiary country:

Beneficiary type:

Location and contacts
Responsible UNESCO Regional advisers: 

Isidro Fernandez Aballi,;

UNESCO Field Office:

Project contacts: 

Bruce Jones, Adviser to Tumul K'in Centre,

Project place: 
Blue Creek Village, Toledo District
Follow-up and achievments
Summary of the project implementation: 

The project was due to end on the 31 December 2010, but unfortunately some activities, such as the receiving and installation of the transmitter, were delayed. The corresponding contract was amended granting the contractor an extension of four months up to 30 April 2011. Presently the project is progressing without major impediments and should finish by 15 April 2011.

Achieved outputs: 
The NICOM 1000 Watt transmitter arrived in Belize City in early September but was released until mid-November after tax exemption for import duty was received from the Ministry of Finance. In early December 2010, the new transmitter was installed. This was complemented with visits to all the 36 communities to identify the new coverage of Ak' Kutan Radio. Three of these communities could not get the access to Ak' Kutan due to their altitude and location and other two due to location. Interestingly, Ak' Kutan is reaching various communities in Guatemala. Therefore, the new transmitter increased the radio coverage from 10 to 32 Mayan communities. Consultations are being completed in 23 of the communities that are now reached as a result of the radio upgrade in the Toledo District. It was decided that house to house visit was the best methodology to be used since this would give the opportunity for a wider cross-section of people to give their feedback. It was done instead of community meetings, because such meetings are generally mostly attended by men. The training manual is being developed for the 3 workshops and dates for the workshop werer programmed. The first basic introductory radio training has taken place. One of the workshops to be done in collaboration with CARIMAC and facilitated by the Director of the Jamaica's CMC Root FM, The Voice of the Inner City, had to be rescheduled due to unforeseen circumstances.