A celebration is happening in Deir al Balah, Gaza. A very special radio station, the first of its kind in the Middle East, is celebrating its sixth anniversary. Fursan al Erada was created in 2006 as a voice for people with disabilities, run by reporters with disabilities. Funded by a coalition of organizations that work with disabled people in the Gaza Strip, the radio station was created to address ignorance and negative stereotypes about disabilities. It began broadcasting on December 6th, 2005, International Day for People with Special Needs. “We are celebrating a radio station that is concerned about people with special needs, and now these same people are making the day for all the people [in the community]. All the activities, songs, dancing, and more are presented by the staff and people with special needs,” said Mahmoud Mussallami, Manager of Fursan Al Erada radio station.
The radio station has set a goal to educate the larger community, while also addressing their target audience with special programming dealing with issues that face the disabled in Palestine. The station’s media strategy aims to change the attitudes and perceptions about people with disabilities, while also assisting them in preparing to become leaders in their communities.
In general the public pays little attention to the problems of people with disabilities, and often sees them as dependent, non-productive people that in the past were often hidden away from society. Although there is a law that deals with access and employment for disabled people in Palestine, it is not enforced; there are no curb cuts for wheelchairs, no easy access to public buildings, no public transportation equipped to deal with disabilities, and no audio traffic signals to alert the blind, to name a few.
As of January 2011, there were 38,000 people with disabilities living in Gaza. Of those, 47.5% have mobility impairments, and this number increases yearly because of the on-going conflicts in Gaza. The second largest group is the hearing disabled, followed by vision, then learning disabilities as recorded by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. The same study also highlighted the problems faced within society, noting, “…22.2% dropped out of school and 8.7% usually avoid performing any activities because of others’ attitudes towards them.” (PCBS and Ministry of Social Affairs, Disability Survey 2011.
From the outset, the station believed that it was very important to shed a light on people with disabilities and the issues and challenges they faced, as well as addressing the negative attitudes of society. This is why the radio station was established. And, so far, they are making a difference in the lives of their audience and those with disabilities by setting an example in their programming and through the achievements and reports of their staff.
The main achievements, as highlighted by the station manager, underscore the importance of the station and its growing sustainability. In the last six years, the station has:
-Produced 50 program cycles focusing on people with disabilities.
-Covered stories and broadcast throughout the Gaza Strip (during the last three years)
-Covered all activities for people with disabilities in Gaza.
-Hosted civil society representatives in the radio programs.
He also explained that thanks to Internews trainings, Fursan Al Erada also prepared an organizational chart for the radio station, developed job descriptions for every employee and used strategic planning skills in preparing for the sixth anniversary events and coverage as part of the outreach and growth of the station.
“Fursan Al Erada has managed to reach all areas in the Gaza Strip with its programming and in the future, we aim to reach all areas of Palestine. We are covering all activities of people with special needs in Gaza Strip. We have managed to reach a point where NGOs approach us to let us talk about their activities,” said Osama Abu Safar, Head of Media Relations and Communications. Osama, like the majority of the staff, is a person with a disability; they are presenters, reporters, editors, program directors, and administrative personnel.
Thanks to your generous contributions the station was able to purchase new field recorder equipment, and these journalists are now able to expand their coverage of stories from the field, getting them closer to their ultimate goal and vision.
On September 30, 2011, the popular radio program Enfomasyon Nou Dwe Konnen (ENDK), or “News You Can Use,” produced its 450th program. Due to its widespread success and popularity, the program is still being broadcast for free on more than 30 radio stations in Port au Prince and the provinces. Described by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) as the “backbone of the humanitarian information operation of Haiti,” ENDK has been instrumental in providing critical information for the Haitian population that is based on their information wants and needs. While the program continues to have a strong public health and disaster alert component, it is steadily working towards a broader focus on recovery, reconstruction, development and civic education topics. With the support of funding from the Office of Transitional Initiatives (OTI), Internews and ENDK are contributing to media capacity building by intensive training and coaching exchanges with 15 partner media who will continue to produce such content in an ENDK type format beyond the current OTI grant. Internews is committed to ensuring that programs like ENDK become self-sustainable and continue to provide vital and life-saving information.
In addition to supporting the radio program and training local journalists, Internews is also supporting a team of 19 Haitian researchers to develop the first independent Haitian research firm BRESI. Internews originally formed a team of Haitian researchers to conduct research on the access to and use of the media by Haiti’s earthquake affected population and most importantly its information needs. The idea was that this information would feed into ENDK programming to ensure that it was responsive to the affected populations’ information needs. In recognition of the important work conducted by this outstanding team of researchers, OTI supported Internews-Haiti’s goal of helping the team develop into an independent research firm capable of operating to international standards. The bi-monthly reports put out by the team are widely circulated among other NGOs, the Haitian government and other key actors, showcasing the tremendous capacity of the team to execute high quality research.
Thank you for your continued support of humanitarian news and information in Haiti.
Thanks in part from your generous donation, Internews’ Earth Journalism Network (EJN) brought a total of 45 journalists to the UNFCCC COP16 Climate Summit held in Cancun. As part of the Climate Change Media Partnership (CCMP) we once again had the largest media delegation at the annual summit. We also brought 11 US journalist Fellows to work alongside the developing country reporters we usually bring.
Our delegation included 31 CCMP Fellows (20 women and 11 men) from 26 developing countries, 11 US journalists – including reporters from such notable organizations as the New York Times, the LA Times and NPR – and a few other partners from various developing countries. Working with the 16 CCMP and EJN staff members from around the world who also joined the program in Cancun, we provided a varied and supportive training programme throughout the two week period:
These measures enhanced the journalist’s knowledge and skills and enabled them to focus on their work of reporting on the negotiations and events to their home media.
The impacts on the CCMP and EJN Fellows included the following:
“[My editors] loved the stories I filed. And for the first time in a year, I got two front page stories on climate change.” - Margot Roosevelt, Los Angeles Times, United States
Coverage from CCMP and EJN Fellows included:
- World Bank climate envoy takes on Jagdeo by Neil Marks. Kaieteur News, December 4, 2010
- At climate summit, they're feeling like deserted islands by Margot Roosevelt. LA Times, December 4, 2010
- Powerpoint Diplomacy in an Energy Push at Climate Talks by Andrew Revkin. New York Times, December 6, 2010
- Flood crisis highlighted at Cancun talks by Rina Saeed Khan. DAWN national daily, December 8, 2010
- In Cancun, protest breaks out against REDD by Meena Menon. The Hindu, December 9, 2010
- Jordan receives $200,000 grant from World Bank by Farah Atyyat. Al Ghad (Arabic), December 10, 2010
- Mexican state seeks to join California in carbon emissions effort by Margot Roosevelt. LA Times, December 10, 2010
- Two options for China’s emission reductions by Yuan Ying. ifeng.com, December 10, 2010
- Last minute: optimism raises in Cancun summit by Martín De Ambrosio. Diario Perfil (Spanish),December 11, 2010
- Consensus Emerges On Common Climate Path by Andrew Revkin. New York Times, December 11, 2010
- U.N. pacts contain small steps but no broad accord on climate change by Margot Roosevelt. LA Times, December 12, 2010
- Google opens world's forests for all to see by Suzanne Bohan. Contra Costa Times, December 13, 2010
- Global warming protesters ramp up with climate talks' failure Slideshow by Mark Malijan, Story by Margot Roosevelt. LA Times, December 13, 2010
- California Plan May Affect Deforestation Abroad by Gretchen Weber. The California Report, December 13, 2010
- Cancun restores faith in the fight against climate change by Pablo Fonseca. La Nación (Spanish),December 13, 2010
- Read blog posts from the Fellows on the CCMP Website
Most gratifying of all was the way in which the journalists from the US and the developing world not only got along, but actively collaborated. They exchanged information and tips, provided each other with photos, sources and content, and found numerous other ways – both formal and informal – to help each other out. And the collaboration will continue, both online through our virtual networks in some cases through direct collaboration. Everyone remarked that this was an outstanding new feature of the program, and we hope to continue promoting this interaction in the future.
The Fellows’ audiences received approximately 475 stories with vital information on climate change and the UN climate change negotiations in their local languages and within a local context. The best of the developing country stories can be found at www.climatemediaparnership.org while the US stories can be found at http://earthjournalism.net/program/cop16-fellowship
By helping to create a more informed public and policy-makers who are more aware about climate change, and by serving as a watchdog on negotiators to make sure they deliberate in good faith, the CCMP Fellowships helped to make developing countries more resilient in the face of climate change impacts and more understanding of the potential benefits of addressing this challenge.
“Being in Cancún helped me to report back home on issues that Guyanese are interested in. I could not have done that were in not for the Climate Change Media Partnership. I was the only journalist from Guyana in Cancún.” - Neil Marks, Kaieteur News, Guyana
The Fellows’ presence at COP16 created an incentive for the delegations to put their best foot forward – if there would be no one present to hold them accountable, it would be easier for country delegations to participate minimally, while telling the public otherwise. The watchdog role of the journalist, certainly a journalist from a country where the average media house cannot afford to send a media professional to an expensive UN conference, is not to be underestimated in this context. Often, certain developing countries do not have one single member of their national press present at the UN climate change summits. It must also be noted that some country delegations are not willing to talk to journalists from their own countries, possibly because of certain rules within their delegations.
At COP16, the possibility of an agreement on the UN programme REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) was one of the most high-profile topics on the table. The REDD+ programme is controversial at times, mainly because it could affect the rights of indigenous peoples that are dependent on forests for their livelihoods, and therefore be an unsustainable solution to climate change. The CCMP staff and Fellows split into three groups and visited three separate REDD+ pilot projects that are implemented by NGOs and indigenous communities in the Yucatan region.
From the beginning of the Fellowship, it was clear that the COP16 summit would not be as high-profile, and therefore as newsworthy to editors, as the previous summit in Copenhagen. All Fellows were able to get stories published regardless and several informed their CCMP editors that their stories made it to the front page or homepage of their media house.
The 2010 CCMP Fellows produced an estimated total of 400 stories during the COP16 climate summit. This is a high story per journalist average, especially considering the fact that editorial demand for reports from the Cancun conference was much lower than during the 2009 COP15 conference in Copenhagen. The EJN Fellows from the US, meanwhile, produced approximately 75 stories.
As we have heard from this year’s Fellows, and know from the previous CCMP Fellowships, the Fellows’ experiences and the contacts they made during the two weeks they spent in Cancun have given them a wealth of information and story ideas for future reports.
The CCMP Fellows, and their reports from the conference, were able to reach a combined audience of millions. Not only were their reports published in their 26 home countries, they were often published online as well in international languages that have a wider-than-national reach. Their perspectives were able to reach audiences on other sides of the world, including those in the developing world. In addition, the journalists produced stories for the CCMP website. That said, stories produced in small, local languages are also able to have a significant impact in local communities.