UNESCO and Africa CDC strengthening community radio journalists on health reporting

Community radio journalists from four African regions have been capacitated with skills on investigating, packaging and disseminating heath and other relevant information. This was though a three-day training of trainers held in Arusha from May 3-5, 2022, as part of the 2022 World Press freedom day African Media Convention. The training was delivered in English, French and Kiswahili.

Organised and financed by the Africa CDC, EU, and UNESCO Multi-donor Programme on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists, in partnership with the East African Community Media Network (EACOMNET) and the African chapter of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC-Africa), the training brought together senior community radio journalists from Eastern, Western, Central and Southern Africa.

Speaking at the opening session, the African CDC representative outlined the Agency’s mandate in safe guiding the health of the African people and emphasised on the importance of its partnership with EU, UNESCO and others, in building the capacity of African community radio journalists.

“This partnership provides an opportunity to take Africa CDC to the ordinary citizens of Africa, in the spirit of the New Public Health for Africa. Africa CDC will leverage on this partnership to build a strong and functional network of community radio journalists, mainly focusing on reporting health issues across the continent. To achieve this, we must work with all stakeholders, including community radio journalists as studies have shown that they have a strong foothold in communities in which they work, and have the potential to influence conversations and decisions around social-economic development issues, including health” Mr Nekerwon Gweh, Africa CDC  Communication Officer

Lauding UNESCO and the Africa CDC for the ongoing successful partnership, Ms. Wynne Musabayana, the Head of Information at the African Union Commission (AUC), stressed on the important role of community radio in Africa in telling the African narrative. She further pledged the support of the African Union Directorate of Information, in expanding the community radios project beyond health reporting health and covering other thematic areas contributing to also Agenda 2063 Aspirations.

UNESCO echoed these sentiments while emphasising on the need to give a special focus on the community media in Africa thorough targeted capacity building. Lydia Gachungi, the UNESCO Addis Office Regional Adviser on Freedom of Expression and the Safety of Journalists stressed on the unique power of the radio in reaching the grassroot communities with the right information and in languages they understand. She further called on the community media houses to put in place safety mechanisms for radio journalists, while emphasising that journalism remains a dangerous profession even at the community level.

This capacity building ongoing initiative, complemented the Africa community media information hub on covid 19 and health – Addressing ‘disinfodemic’ (eacomnet.org) developed by the EACOMNET and the AMARC Africa in 202, with the support of the Africa CDC, UNESCO and the EU funded #Coronavirusfacts projects. It contributes to mitigating the harmful impact of misinformation and disinformation by also building journalists’ capacity, factchecking and training tools and other accessible resources, for the community media in Africa.

The follow-upto this training is a more comprehensive long-term programme to roll out the Training of Trainers for community radio managers, editors, journalists and correspondents of African Community Media Associations. Future training will also include the different thematic areas contributing to Agenda 2063 and SDGs, with health communication being a priority for Africa CDC. Other components to be added to this joint effort will include support to the establishment of community radio listeners clubs in the existing community radios and online mentorship programme for community media journalists. Furthermore, more efforts will be put to enrich the Africa community media information hub on covid 19 and health – Addressing ‘disinfodemic’ (eacomnet.org) with a database of health experts, and link them up with the community radio journalists.