IPDC’s rapid response mechanism supports 10+ COVID related projects

Since the previous round of project funding in 2020, the International Programme for the Development of Communications (IPDC) has used its rapid response mechanism to support 10 new grassroots media development projects to target COVID related issues, with a total amount of $218 500.

Thanks to contributions by Iceland, Sweden and the Netherlands, funds became available to support selected projects for which there was not sufficient financing during the June 2020 IPDC Bureau meeting. These projects were reoriented to provide innovative responses to the COVID-19 crisis, and have now been approved by the new Bureau elected in 2020.

The ten supported projects cover a wide range of topics of the pandemic’s impact on the media sphere and journalists’ safety. They include:

  • A capacity-building project in Rwanda aims to improve professional reporting of various media actors including journalists, online content producers and publishers as part of strengthening media pluralism.
  • Another project in Namibia plans to develop a pan-African curriculum for journalism education about contemporary media policy issues. This marks the 30th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration which gave rise to World Press Freedom Day, and Namibia’s hosting of the World Press Freedom Conference this 3 May.
  • In Central America, special attention is paid to the digital safety of female journalists who tend to be more targeted by hate speech and cyber attacks.

In addition, projects that focus on empowering media professionals with know-how about reporting about, and with, changing technologies in the context of COVID-19 will be implemented in Latin American and Caribbean countries. The themes vary from developing social media policy framework (Jamaica) and enhancing the digital rights of journalists (Paraguay), to confronting disinformation and misinformation and protecting journalists during the pandemic (Haiti).

Furthermore, UNESCO media viability indicators will be used in a regional consultation to analyze Southeastern Asian media’s viability status during the COVID-19 crisis.

All the projects adapted their budget planning to the current situation where virtual events are prioritized due to sanitary concerns. Among those submitters whose proposals succeeded in winning approval by the IPDC Bureau in this new round of support, are the Public Media Alliance, the African Editors Forum, Namibia Media Trust, Rwanda Media Commission, Asociación TEDIC Target group, Caribbean Broadcasting Union, Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, the University for Peace, Media Workers Association of Grenada (MWAG).

In addition to the 10 projects, a new large-scale project was approved by the Bureau which will enable UNESCO to support training and dialogues between police and journalists regarding coverage of protests.

Supported by an earmarked grant from the Netherlands, host of UNESCO’s 2020 World Press Freedom Conference, this project aligns with the recent IPDC resolution on Safety of Journalists which noted concerns about recent increases in attacks against journalists reporting on protests.

The same IPDC resolution also encouraged Member States to enhance national capacities to address the security of journalists covering protests, in line with international standards on freedom of expression.