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IRC Uganda continues to support journalists and enhance their capacity, aspiring to improve media coverage of WASH issues
Journalists in Rwenzori Region commit to improving and increasing coverage of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) issues in the mainstream media. This pledge emerged from a regional media dialogue, organised by IRC, Water For People and the Ministry of Water and Environment. It comes ahead of the annual Uganda WASH Media Awards, which aims to recognise journalists for raising public awareness and understanding of WASH.
The media dialogue, held on the 12th July at Rainah Hotel in Fort Portal, attracted 28 journalists from Bundibugyo, Bunyangabu, Kabarole, Kamwenge, Kasese, Kyegegwa and Kyenjojo districts. They represented different media outlets including newspapers, radio and TV stations and online publications.
During the dialogue, the journalists discussed a wide range of WASH issues in the region and received a refresher training in key principles and techniques of media practice. They were later treated to two field excursions to Kitagwenda in the Kamwenge district and Karangura sub-county in the Kabarole district.
In Karangura, the journalists were led by the sub-county chairman in a walk along River Mpanga. It is here where they witnessed community level household sanitation practices and their impacts on the water quality in the river. They also saw the different interventions to restore the degraded river bank.
Equipped with a newfound knowledge of WASH issues and their magnitude, the journalists each made a commitment to contribute to improving WASH media coverage. Some of the commitments included the following:
- "I wrote stories on WASH issues even before the media awards and I will continue writing about WASH issues in both hard news and features" – Felix Basiime Daily Monitor
- "I commit to writing at least one WASH story per month" – Scovia Atuhairwe, Daily Monitor
- "I will give priority to WASH stories by writing two stories on the topic per month" – Enid Ninsiima, Daily Monitor
- "I will always run a story on WASH every Friday at 7.00pm" – Joel Kaguta of Messiah Radio
- "Today I commit myself to report stories concerning WASH alongside health issues" – Rachel Karungi, KRC FM
- "I commit myself to writing stories about access to clean toilet facilities in schools" – Edward Kyaligonza, Life FM
- "I commit to task the district authorities to provide different reports on WASH" – Geoffrey Nyamongera UBC, Bundibugyo.
- "I commit myself to inform the public in Rwenzori region on the importance of washing their hands and holding leaders accountable for what they are doing to provide clean water for the people" – Jonan Tusingwire, TV West
- "I will make sure that I work with my team as an editor to integrate a story about WASH in our editorial policy at least weekly" – Hamis Katende, Unique FM
The dialogue facilitator, Gerald Businge developed the following list of considerations to facilitate more frequent and better reporting on WASH issues.
- Develop a list of contacts (of experts and authorities) that journalists can interview and quote as sources while doing stories in their respective districts. This list should be developed by WASH professionals.
- Follow up frequently to see how journalists are reporting on WASH issues so that the high levels of interest do not fade beyond the training room.
- WASH partners should continuously engage with journalists, sharing story ideas or tips, or inviting them to join for field visits.
- Provide ongoing mentorship and guidance once the journalists start writing or producing their stories. There is a need for a senior trainer or journalist to aid in assignment execution and direction.
- Form a WhatsApp group or similar platform for ease of communication and sharing.