KANNAGIPURA/M : A radio drama for Peace Building and Social Change in Sri Lanka

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KANNAGIPURA/M : A radio drama for Peace Building and Social Change in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka
Organization type: 
for profit
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

KANNAGIPURA/M is Sri Lanka’s only Sinhala-Tamil Radio Drama which promotes inter ethnic relations with entertainment for youth.
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

There was a need to raise issues related to the conflict and bring about ethnic reconciliation in post war Sri Lanka. People needed to understand and see issues from perspectives other than their own. There is a need to dispel suspicion and hatred between different peoples, and to understand that conflicts can be resolved through dialogue and discussion rather than violence and aggression. There also was a need to engage youth from different parts of the country, from different ethnic groups and who speak different languages to come together to contribute their input towards the conceptualizing and the continued generation of program content which is relevant and timely. There was also a dearth in programming that would reach the widest possible audiences (throughout Sri Lanka) in both local languages which discussed current topics ranging from women’s issues, human rights, equality, environment, health, collective action for common benefit, etc. It also needed to be entertaining and not be ‘preachy’.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

KANNAGIPURA/M (http://www.kannagipura.com), YATV’s groundbreaking twin series of radio dramas (Sinhala and Tamil), is broadcast on the national radio Sri Lanka Broadcastin Corporation (SLBC) and on all its 11 regional stations at the same time. The overall goal of the project is to support co-existence and reconciliation through a media intervention. The objective of the series is to promote coexistence and strengthen the capacity of the target groups to prevent conflict at local and national levels. The radio drama series consists of fifteen minute episodes in each language. Two episodes of each of the two language series are broadcast weekly. It is targeted at Sinhala and Tamil speaking audiences. It also targets a Diaspora audience through on-line audio portal available on the internet from the YATV website. The radio drama episodes are entertaining and action and solution oriented, leading listeners to shape their own decisions on how to respond to conflicts in the same way that the characters in the drama do. The central change storyline is based on the premise that understanding between different cultures, and interaction between different ethnic groups, enhances inter-ethnic relationships and help dispel suspicion and hatred. The radio drama runs in parallel with a youth outreach project with local communities. The objective is to facilitate the direct involvement of young people from across the country to provide a platform for the voices of youth to contribute to the national dialogue. There are currently 60 listener groups in 20 districts of the country.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

There is ample evidence that our solution makes a difference through the feedback we get through mail, e mail, web comments and sms. “The drama is very different to dramas broadcast on other channels. A lot is emphasized on peace and co-existence, which I like” Sinhala listener group, Ampara, mixed group, ages 18-29 “This drama gives importance to social problems and the need for development...” Tamil listener group, Batticaloa, ages 16-32 “The drama is led with examples. Since the Sinhala and Tamil speaking communities are well represented we are able to understand each community’s differences, culture, behavior etc.” CFP Feedback, March 2010, Moneragala “The district of Ampara has Sinhala, Tamil and the Muslim communities. Because of the conflict, the trust between the communities has eroded. The drama provides ways of building this trust as it gives positive messages...” Sinhala listener group, Ampara, ages 18-29 “Knowledge is been given that there should be equality among all communities. We had forgotten this like the tsunami. Through this drama, we remember timely incidents.” Sinhala listener group, Colombo, ages 20-29 “The war divided us. Now since the war is over we should live peacefully. Not only should we be close but should be able to share others' ideas. Through this we could understand one another and get rid of any misunderstandings.” Sinhala listener group, Matara, ages 23-29

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

This is YATV’s first project in radio since the objective was to reach audiences across the country encompassing all ethnic groups. Some radio and tv stations do not have such a wide reach, except for the state media, and therefore YATV partnered with SLBC and its regional channels. Though there are some radio programs which raise issues related to peace and reconciliation, KANNAGIPURA/M is unique due to multiple reasons. •An uninterrupted 15 minute broadcast. •On air simultaneously in Sinhala and Tamil. •Can be accessed on the web. •A training component to build skills and capacity among regional youth to produce radio drama for social change. •Focus Group Discussions and Regional Listener Groups give continuous feedback, generating pertinent content for the program. •Weekly competitions and listener feedback by SMS.
About You
Young Asia Television
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Young Asia Television

Organization Country

, WE

Country where this project is creating social impact

, WE

How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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Select the stage that best applies to your solution

Established (you've got demonstrated success)

How long have you been in operation?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Social Impact
FOUNDING STORY: We want to hear about your “Aha!” moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution’s potential to change the world.

Power struggles between political parties and tensions between ethnic and religious groups were the norm in post war Sri Lanka.
With abuse of human rights increasing, ethnic divisions deepened. Media played a significant role as the main source of public information about the conflict. Segregated by ethnic and political interests, the media in Sri Lanka reflected the bias and prejudice of the two major ethnic communities, the Sinhalese and the Tamils. This meant that the media often played a non constructive, even destructive role in attempts at peace building.

YA TV felt it could contribute towards peace building, and thus embarked on this radio drama project, which would also provide accurate and balanced information, and create a platform for pluralistic opinion to discuss important national issues. It would also give space for the voices of minority ethnic groups, while including the majority voice too. It felt that Radio rather than Television will help access even the remotest parts of Sri Lanka, and a bilingual drama will appeal to all ethnic groups.

Specify both the depth and scale of your solution’s social impact to date

Results of an evaluation study conducted after the broadcast of 150 episodes shows that the drama is communicating the essential key messages and that people do feel that the drama can successfully change people’s attitudes towards the other community.
“Overall the view is that the drama is relevant to change behavior. For listeners it provides many messages, not just those related to peace and reconciliation. In addition to creating ethnic and religious awareness, they seem to appreciate its gendered messages of respecting women, women creating opportunities for themselves and the value of youth in society. They note that there are repercussions for bad actions.
Some listeners have been inspired to start activities with the intention of stimulating social change process at a community level. Two cases in point is setting up a women’s development society in Batticaloa to encourage women’s participation and setting up a Montessori school – raising a key message of the drama that attempted to encourage the involvement of youth in community activities with a special focus on including women.”

What is your projected impact within the next 1-5 years? Is your idea replicable? If so, how?

YATV intends to continue broadcasting the series by capitalizing on its established listener base. The ever growing number of appreciative correspondence on the program goes to show the positive influence it has on people and the potential growth for the drama. A majority are from Sri Lanka with the United States, India and the Middle East – Qatar – followed by the UK.
Our broadcast partner SLBC was inspired by KANNAGIPURA/M to launch a program of their own on similar lines. They broadcast a 50 episode Sinhala radio drama on City FM, Wednesday, 7pm – 7.30pm (continuing after KANNAGIPURA) named ‘EY AADEREN LAN VUNE‘.
The training component on skills and capacity building for regional youth will contribute towards independent productions of radio drama for social change.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and mark growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

Tasks for the immediate 6 months

Six-Month Tasks
Task 1

Story Development, Scripting, Production and Broadcast for next phase

Task 2

Training on skills and capacity building for regional youth for independent productions of radio drama

Task 3

Promotional activities including competitions

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
12-Month Tasks
Task 1

Further development of the drama if funding is secured.

Task 2

Training of youth from different parts of Sri Lanka in radio drama production if funding is secured

Task 3

Outreach programs

How many people have been impacted by your project?

More than 10,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

Explain how your company, program, service or product is structured


What barriers have hindered the success of your project to date? How do you plan to overcome these and other challenges as you grow your solution?

Operational difficulties and ethnic stereotyping-The management guided the team. The two language teams learned to discuss and arrive at consensus.
The short duration is insufficient-attitude and behavior change takes longer to manifest.

There is a constant need to strike a balance-staying engaged with audience groups and remaining within the mainstream media realm.YA TV constantly ‘listens’ to the audience and listener group feedback, and has consultative meetings.

The relationship with broadcasting partner is mixed. This production was seen as a direct challenge to its staff private income. However the relationship between the two organizations has been cultivated over time. There has also been a process of convincing and partnership building between the two organizations.

How do you see the information-technology and media sectors shifting over the next decade? How will your solution adapt to and/or drive that changing environment?

In the face of changing technology, the media sector is shifting more towards web based productions. In this light, YA TV goes global in uploading all its programming, video and audio, online. Its web portal allows its audiences to interact with us, which is a valuable contribution to maintaining interest and relevance, and increasing its audience base. This not only is a driving force for sustainability, but also is a trail blazer in initiating activities addressing pertinent issues.

Failure is not always an option. If your solution fails to gain traction in the next two years, what other applications of the idea could you explore?

Constructive and relevant interventions will always be ‘timely help’ to address pertinent issues, and therefore it is very unlikely that our solution can ‘fade’. If the medium of radio grows to be less effective, other avenues like web productions, television and street theater can be explored, or even used as complementary media.

Expand on your selections, explaining how you will sustain funding

The British High Commission in Sri Lanka funded the project for the period Feb 2009 - March 2011. The second phase was supported by the US Embassy in Sri Lanka from April 2011 – August 2011. Broadcast of the program continues presently with no outside financing, and YA TV is presently seeking funding for the next phase for the continuation of the program.

Tell us about your partnerships

YATV being the only dedicated PSB producer in Sri Lanka, works with partner organizations in developing media interventions that are of specific concern to the development activities of the partner and in keeping with the mandate of YATV. They are guaranteed that the programs will be produced with good journalistic principles and appropriate sensitivity to the social concerns being discussed.

What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section?

YATV has in-house capacity and expertise required to consistently ensure technical competence and content awareness in the project. It has the technical and production capacity and capability, (with personnel with different language speaking skills) as well as state of the art production facilities and infrastructure support. It also commissions professionals on a regular basis to train the in-house staff and enhance their professional activities.

Changemakers is a collaborative and supportive space. Please specify any community resources you would need to grow and sustain your initiative. Select all that apply

Investment, Human resources or talent, Research or information, Collaboration or networking, Pro-bono help (legal, financial, etc.), Innovation or ideas, Mentorship.

Specify any resources you might offer to support other initiatives. Select all that apply

Human resources or talent, Marketing or media, Research or information, Collaboration or networking, Pro-bono help (legal, financial, etc.), Innovation or ideas, Mentorship.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren’t specified within the list

The lack of a conducive and viable environment for social communication in Sri Lanka due to the Government’s attitude towards International Agencies makes it difficult to secure long term funding for media interventions. Hence any support towards media interventions for social change will contribute towards development and sustainable peace in Sri Lanka.

Define your company, program, service or product in 1-2 short sentences

YATV's social media intervention,the radio drama KANNAGIPURA/M, engages in peace building between ethnic communities.