From everyone here at Internews and our local partner in CAR, the Association of Journalists for Human Rights (AJHR), we wanted to extend our deepest gratitude for your contributions to this project. All funds received from this project go directly to AJHR to help them operate during this crisis, by delivering life-saving information via a network of radio stations across the country.
Following the Séléka rebel group’s takeover of Bangui on March 24 that forced President Francis Bozizé to flee the capital, Bangui declined into state of chaos with significant looting and pillaging of homes, offices and shops, severe shortages of electricity and fuel, and curtailed access to health services, transportation and food. Since that day, your support has done so much to assist the more than 4.1 million people who have been directly affected by the crisis and our local partner, the Association of Journalists for Human Rights (AJHR).
In CAR, to overcome the difficulties of communication caused by power outages, lack of Internet access, bad roads, and rebel occupation in several areas, Internews created a unique network connecting 15 community radio stations in CAR. The Association of Journalists for Human Rights, a local organization that was founded in December 2010 at one of the training sessions organized by Internews, runs the network. The Association connects the stations with one other and enables humanitarian agencies to learn what is happening in hard-to-reach areas for them and quickly exchange information with communities throughout the country.
Thanks to daily bulletins, humanitarian agencies are able to intervene more quickly in response to demands from the local population. For example, Radio Zereda in Obo, one of the partners in the far east of the country, which is under LRA influence, reported in early 2011 on the disappearance of a number of refugees in a Congolese refugee camp near the border. The bulletin alarmed UNHCR, the Congolese government, and the Central African government, and a UNHCR fact-finding mission was sent out. Some days later, the refugees were discovered inside Congo.
In CAR, AJHR is continuing to work around the clock to ensure that life-saving information is delivered via a network of radio stations across the country. Sending regular news bulletins to a growing network of news outlets is central to the work that AJHR is doing now to ensure that important news updates reach even the most remote places in the country. With your support, AJHR can continue this important work, and continue to operate under these extreme circumstances.
Integrating Local Media and ICTs into Humanitarian Response in CAR
Thanks to a grant from the Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF), Internews is excited to introduce an innovative new program starting in March, entitled Integrating Local Media and ICTs into Humanitarian Response in CAR , which will foster a bounded network of trusted local media organizations. This network will be able to gather real-time, first-hand information from affected populations to create a two-way communication flow with humanitarians, improving emergency response, community participation and community resilience.
This will allow AJHR to further expand their network by training the remaining 13 radio stations on the use of FrontlineSMS software to collect information from their listeners. This information will then be geo-located and processed in order to feed information into the humanitarian community in a more structured way to positively influence their decision-making (think faster, smarter) using interactive maps and categorization of information through a Ushahidi platform.
This HIF pilot project will increase the efficiency, transparency and accountability of humanitarian relief efforts and increase community resilience by leveraging the relationship that local media have with their communities and strengthening these existing social networks through technological solutions. This project will create a reliable and sustainable system that will allow local media to gather, in real time, first-hand information from populations and channel it to the humanitarian sector, while at the same time, establishing a two-way communication flow with local communities.
Why Local Media Matters
In times of crises, conflict and emergency, access to reliable, accurate and well-targeted information can save lives. Communication is aid, and failing to act on this principle and provide resources accordingly means that humanitarian actors neglect people’s right to access information, ask questions, and participate in their own relief and recovery.
There are many complex and intertwined conflict dynamics affecting CAR and neighboring countries that also require targeted information and communications based responses. Local radio stations in CAR have already demonstrated the crucial role they play in the exchange of information between listeners in the community and international humanitarian organizations, UN agencies and local aid providers. ICTs, technical and power limitations allowing, can only strengthen the phenomenal role local media currently play. At the end of the day, for many local communities, radio may be the only thing they can turn into.
It’s donors like you who can make these projects possible. From all of us at Internews and AJHR, thank you very much for your continued support and involvement in our work in CAR.
More about Internews' projects in Central African Republic
Twenty-seven year old Helen Fortunate Mayelle is a Media and Communication Officer at the Refugee Law Project based in the war torn northern region of Uganda, where she has found a passion for video advocacy, using it to fight injustices and human rights abuses.
Mayelle started out in community radio in her home town of Arua. While working at Radio Pacis ("Peace" in Italian), she received training in radio production from Internews and produced radio dramas about social issues, including gender based violence.
When Mayelle worked for NTV in Uganda, she started a program for children - Planet K - that still exists today. Watch an interview with Helen.
We see women and youth just like Helen who use media to create real change in their communities every day. Thank you so much for supporting young journalists through the InternewsNext Global Giving project. It’s amazing what can happen when you invest, $25, $50, or $100 in young people – just a little bit can go such a long way. A relatively small amount helped to give Helen the radio production training and access to equipment that she needed to tell her story. You can enable journalists to empower themselves and their communities by making a donation to the InternewsNext project.
You can be a part of the global movement to encourage free, open access to media and information – won’t you join us?
Thanks so much for your support! We successfully completed our project in Doha, Qatar!
Thanks in part to your contributions, we were able to take over 10 journalists to the COP this year, coming from all over the world. Having access to events and negotiations, in addition to the specialized training Internews provided to the journalists, we are happy to say that the fellows we were able to support this year gained invaluable experiences, lessons learned, and most importantly, were able to write dozens of reports to send back to their local news sources in their home countries around the negotiations.
And, this year for the second time in a row, Internews and the Earth Journalism network, in partnership with IIED, was able to put on a day-long event called "Climate Communications Day." More than 120 journalists, scientists, activists and communications experts gathered at the second annual Climate Communications Day to discuss how best to communicate climate-related issues.
Below is a write-up of the event:
As heads of state began to arrive in Doha last week to start the high-level COP18 negotiations towards a legally binding climate deal, more than 120 journalists, scientists, activists and communications experts gathered at the second annual Climate Communications Day to discuss how best to communicate climate-related issues.
The event was part of an annual program run by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network (EJN) and the International Institute of Environment & Development (IIED). Jamal Dajani, Internews’ Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa, opened the December 4th event by welcoming the audience and thanking sponsors. James Fahn, Executive Director of EJN, noted that despite the struggle to address climate change with policy – or rather, because of it – interest in climate change communications seems to be stronger than ever.
Mike Shanahan of IIED, one of the event co-organizers, chaired the first plenary, “Reaching New Audiences,” which began with an overview on the methodology and data collection by BBC Media Action’s Climate Asia team. Their report aims to establish the best ways to use media and communications to provide people directly affected by a changing environment with the information they need to respond.
“It is essential to think about who you are speaking to,” said Tan Copsey of BBC Media Action. “This report aims to help communicators reach their audiences just as much as it looks at audiences’ reactions to communications.”
Examples were given of when innovative communication techniques were successful. But what works at a community level – such as participatory drama or school curriculum materials in Bangladesh – does not necessarily work nationally.
After the presentation, a panel of journalists from the USA, Brazil, Indonesia and Egypt discussed how to best communicate climate change to reach the new and diverse audiences (see summary blog post here). Discussions focused on topics such as the importance placed on good governance, both locally and nationally, gender issues, and the importance of knowing your audience’s needs.
The issue of language use for communicating on climate was raised throughout the day and featured in the second plenary, “Making Maps (and Sense) of Data.”
Bassam al-Kantar, the environment editor for Al-Akhbar newspaper in Lebanon, began the debate by highlighting the lack of software that is adaptable to the Arabic language when presenting data through maps on the internet. Panelists Arend Kuster from the Qatar-based organisation Q Science and Stuart Neil from the World Energy Council agreed that the real issue was money: translation is hugely expensive and resources are urgently needed to fund this gap in software development.
EJN Coordinator Willie Shubert went on to describe different mapping and visualization tools that can be used to present data and combine it with journalism. He presented a couple of examples of data journalism, the InfoAmazonia map platform of the Amazon region and similar climate data map of the US being developed by Internews that is expected to launch early next year.
The afternoon sessions focused on communicating climate change in ways that are fun and accessible– using games and comedy. Pablo Suarez and Carina Bachofen of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre demonstrated how and why participatory games can be useful in communicating climate change.
”I used to be very good at talking science and putting people to sleep,” said Suarez. “If you communicate in a way that is not unidirectional it is more likely to succeed.”
Fahn went on to present a number of different ways comedy can be used to communicate on climate change. He presented cartoons and videos from around the world as effective ways to engage audiences in the issues surrounding the negotiations process as well as impacts of a changing climate.
The day closed with an awards ceremony for journalists Njenga Ndekere and Pilirani Tambala – from Kenya and Malawi, respectively – who both won trips to the summit through the Voices4Climate podcast competition run by the World Bank.
Also participating in the event this year were a dozen journalists from the Middle East and Africa who came to the summit and took part in a week-long Fellowship program designed to enhance their capacity to report on complicated, often scientific issues, to their home audiences.
This year’s Climate Communications Day event was made possible with generous support from the the World Bank’s Connect4Climate campaign and TerrAfrica, while the Fellowship program was also sponsored by the Global Campaign for Climate Action and the Doha Centre for Media Freedom.