Between February 27 and March 2, 2011, the Institute for Law and Environmental Governance (ILEG), in partnership with the Kenya Environment and Science Journalists Association (KENSJA), Maseno University (MU) and the Kenya Correspondents Association (KCA) held an International Workshop on Media and Sustainable Development in Africa.
This workshop was informed by the fact that development communication had a critical in fostering sustainable development. However, it was noted that the media faced several challenges in communicating this information.
Key among this include: the lack of capacity or training in development communication; the technical nature of issues in the environment field e.g. climate change; the lack of adequate resource support; and the lack of focus on development stories among others.
Therefore, this workshop was considered as an important platform for dialogue, the exchange of ideas and experiences and learning among policy makers, development practitioners, researchers and journalists on ways of promoting environmental journalism in the continent and improving the role of the media in promoting sustainable development.
The workshop discussions were centred on the following areas:
Mr. Ochieng’ Ogodo, President of KENSJA delivered the keynote address on behalf of Mr. Diran Onifade, President African Federation of Science Journalists. Other speakers at the opening included: Mr. Benson Ochieng’, Director, ILEG; Ms Angele Luh Sy, Information Officer at UNEP Regional Office for Africa; Prof. Barrack Owuor, Director, International Relations and Interlink, Maseno University; and Ms. Betty Nzioka, Deputy Director, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) among others.
The workshop sponsored by DANIDA and the Ford Foundation, brought together 70 participants who included journalists drawn from Kenya and across Africa and more particularly, Ethiopia, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Djibouti, Malawi, Sudan, Somalia and Namibia. In addition, experts from various fields such as communication, development, environmental sciences and environmental law were present to enrich the discussions at the event.
At the workshop, journalists were urged to give prominence to issues that would help develop the continent. In addition, it was underscored that only effective reporting based on factual evidence which was broken down for the audience would be beneficial to both the public and policy makers to enable them make well-informed choices. More importantly, it was emphasised that the media has a great role to play in promoting sustainable development and as such it was time they lived up to that role.
At the close of the workshop, participants were in agreement that there was need to promote environmental reporting. The workshop, which was akin to a pan-African gathering of reporters pursuing environmental and development reporting signalled the beginning of greater collaboration among Africa media practitioners as a contribution to the development of the continent.