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Support to Radio Nepal - Nepal

In 2007-2008, Fondation Hirondelle set up a support program for Radio Nepal, Nepal's national radio, to cover the election of the Constituent Assembly. This historic election marked the end of the monarchy and a decisive step in the construction of democracy and peace in the country, after the civil war that tore it from 1996 to 2006.

The Director of Radio Nepal, Nepal’s national radio station, contacted Fondation Hirondelle in January 2007 to help him cover the election of the Constituent Assembly, scheduled for June. The Fondation prepared a first project, but it was abandoned as the elections were postponed. But the second project got off the ground and in September a project manager flew to Katmandu. Equipment was sent to set up a studio in Radio Nepal, and Fondation Hirondelle equipped around fifty local correspondents. But in October, the elections were postponed again, and the project, funded for three months by Division IV of the Swiss Foreign Affairs Department, was suspended.

The project resumed in January 2008. Three national staff members selected in 2007 were rehired. The training of 58 Radio Nepal journalists, begun in 2007, resumed intensively and included 61 correspondents from most districts of Nepal. Radio Nepal had kept part of the electoral programming designed in 2007 by Fondation Hirondelle. Programs that had had to be suspended were re-launched two months before the Constituent Assembly elections. These programs were broadcast on a national level; specific programs were also broadcast at regional level in local languages. As of February 2008, six weekly programs educating people about the elections were produced and broadcast. They included political debates, questioning of several candidates, two information programs on the main events of the week, and two broadcasts enabling listeners to put questions to constitutional experts and the Electoral Commission. Short messages presenting the electoral system – a mix of majority and proportional -- were regularly broadcast. A special program schedule was put in place for the election week. About thirty journalists and 60 correspondents covered the event in all of the 75 Nepalese districts in 20 languages.

The election was held on April 10, 2008, in a relatively peaceful manner despite real insecurity in the country. The Maoists won, beating the Nepali Congress party into second place. Radio Nepal's election coverage was hailed by everyone.