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Community Radio Mattoli Wins National Award for Best Thematic Radio Program on Climate Mitigation and Indigenous Practices

By Fr. Bijo Thomas, Station Director, Community Radio Mattoli, Wayanad, Kerala, India.

Radio Mattoli, a community radio station in  Dwaraka, located in the Wayanad district of Kerala, India, won the award for best thematic radio program by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The station was recognized for having the best quality and most relevant and timely coverage of climate mitigation and Indigenous practices out of 448 community radio stations in India. The award was presented to Radio Mattoli on July 23, 2023. 

Founded in 2009, Radio Mattoli is managed by the NGO, Wayanad Social Service Society, and produces radio programs in Malayalam and Paniya languages. As of the 2011 Census, the population of Scheduled Tribes in Kerala was 484,839, of which the Wayanad district had the highest number of Tribal Peoples (185,469). Radio Mattoli covers 83 percent of Wayanad district.

With support from Cultural Survival, Radio Mattoli carried out a four-part project to promote health and well being in Indigenous communities. First, a series of radio programs that focused on topics such as vaccination, nutrition, and climate changes were produced and broadcast in both Malayalam and Tribal dialects designed to be accessible to a wide range of listeners. Secondly, the station conducted two trainings for radio producers and community members focusing on the radio production as well as the use of radio as a tool for community development. Thirdly, it broadcasts programs in 10 Tribal settlements through field visits. And fourthly, the station purchased the necessary equipment needed for field recording and editing.


A main feature of the programming was a year-long health awareness campaign called “Nammude Arroghyam Nammude Utharavathitwam” (Our Health is Our Responsibility). The series featured interviews with health experts, Tribal leaders, and community members who shared their stories and perspectives on a variety of health topics, including vaccination, nutrition, mental health, pre- and post-COVID health issues, the importance of nutrition and immunization, traditional environmental agricultural practices, and climate change.

Santhosh Kaniyambetta, a farmer, said that radio programs on COVID-19 vaccination encouraged him to get vaccinated. He had been hesitant to get vaccinated before, but the programs helped him to understand the importance of vaccination and to dispel some of the myths about it. He is now vaccinated and encourages others to get vaccinated as well. "The programs explained the benefits of vaccination in a clear and concise way," he said, adding, “Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19.”


The series was broadcast on Radio Mattoli and is also available online, making it accessible to a wide audience. It has been praised by listeners for its informative and engaging content, which has helped them to learn more about important health issues and make informed decisions about their own health and well being.

One of the key strengths of the series is its focus on diversity and inclusion. The producers have made a concerted effort to feature interviews with people from all walks of life, including Indigenous communities and other marginalized groups, such as people with disabilities. This has helped to ensure that the series is relevant and accessible to a wide audience.


The series has also been praised for its commitment to promoting traditional and complementary forms of medicine. In addition to interviews with conventional health experts, the series also features interviews with traditional healers and practitioners of Ayurveda and other complementary and alternative medicine therapies. This has helped to raise awareness of the benefits of alternative medicine and to promote a more holistic approach to healthcare. Radio Mattoli has also organized workshops on topics such as mental health, reproductive health, and substance abuse. These workshops have been attended by hundreds of people, including Tribal youth leaders, community health workers, and traditional healers.

-- In 2022, Radio Mattoli received a grant from Cultural Survival’s Indigenous Community Media Fund, which provides opportunities for international Indigenous radio stations to strengthen their infrastructure and broadcast systems and creates training opportunities for journalism, broadcasting, audio editing, technical skills, and more for radio journalists from Indigenous communities around the world. In 2023, the Indigenous Community Media Fund distributed $420,000 in grants supporting 60 Indigenous communication projects that will benefit 87 Indigenous Peoples in 20 countries.