Africa

Chad

During a crucial time of change in Chad's legal and local governmental structure, the Haut Conseil de la Communication (HCC) highlighted the need to strengthen the capacities of public and private media to provide participatory support during elections. With the recent introduction of laws authorizing the publication of partial results and the broadcasting of commentaries on electoral processes, the responsibility of the media to ensure transparency and credibility is even more pertinent. Unfortunately however, the HCC's role as the media regulatory body in Chad is limited, due to a lack of material and human resources.

A project financed through the IPDC sought to address this issue by facilitating the delivery, by the High Council for Communication of Chad (HCC), of three training workshops on election reporting for 100 media professionals (in Ndjamena, Moundou and Abeche, respectively held in September, October and November 2011). 

Democratic Republic of Congo

A 1-day workshop was held on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May 2012, focused on “Media, elections, and freedom of the press”.

Earlier on, in September and October 2011, UNESCO had held trainings on electoral reporting in  Matadi (reaching close to 70 journalists) and Bukavu (15 trainees).  These events built on ongoing work supported by UNESCO in the country, which has included a workshop held in Kinshasa in June 2011 (50 trainees) and the adoption of a code of conduct for journalists in relation to the electoral period 2011-2013 (adopted by other 120 journalists).

Kenya

Some Kenyan media played an ambivalent role during the election campaigns in 2007 and the following post-election violence. While some supported voter education and scrutinized the actions of politicians and election committee officials to ensure free and fair elections, others provided a platform for misinformation and inflammatory propaganda. Moreover, a study of the performance of vernacular radio stations carried out by the Media Council of Kenya pointed to the importance of well-trained radio journalists and presenters in a run-up to the elections in 2013 in Kenya.

In light of the above, a two-day training workshop was held in Nakuru in October 2012, benefitting 40 journalists from mainstream and community media and focusing on media ethics, election reporting and audience-led reporting. It was organized by UNESCO in cooperation with the Media Council of Kenya, BBC Media Action and the Canada High Commission. Following up on this capacity-building effort, thirty journalists from North-Eastern and Eastern Kenya were trained on elections reporting in a two-day workshop that took place on in Machakos County in January 2013. The training addressed issues relating to professionalism and the code of ethics for the practice of journalism in the country. It was a hands-on practical exercise for journalists on how to deal with hate speech and inflammatory remarks, and also on how to host talk shows in a conflict-sensitive manner during the election of March 2013. The training also addressed the issue of how ordinary people across the country can reach politicians and public officials through various platforms such as radio, television, social media and mobile phones in the lead-up to the electoral period. These activities highlighted the role of media in contributing to a culture of peace and to democratic governance.

Liberia

An extra-budgetary project financed by the Government of Denmark was launched by UNESCO in Liberia in the lead up to the second post-conflict legislative and presidential elections in Liberia, which were held in October 2011 (with the run-off presidential election held in November). With the post-conflict overhang and the trend of elections triggering violence in parts of Africa, UNESCO sought to contribute to a peaceful electoral process through vital support to the media sector in Liberia as a pilot model for possible replication in other countries of the Manor River Union (which also comprises Sierra Leone, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire), and possibly elsewhere in Africa. The project's focus was on:

  • the implementation of the freedom of information act;
  • training journalists on conflict-sensitive reporting, particularly during the electoral period;
  • monitoring media output;
  • and contributing to financially sustainable media.

The initiative also included the celebration of a regional World Press Freedom Day conference held in Monrovia, bringing together participants from Liberia, Côte d´Ivoire, and Sierra Leone in May 2012.

Madagascar

Within the Framework of the PACEM Project (Le Projet d'appui au cycle électoral 2012-2014 de Madagascar), UNESCO was requested to assure a second series of training of journalists in Madagascar. The objective of the second series of training workshops is to deepen the professional and ethical skills of journalists from the written press, radio and television.

Three series of 3 day-trainings are foreseen:  in Antsirabe from 20 to 22 May 2013, Fianarantsoa from 24 to 26 May 2013 and Majunga from 30 May to 1 June 2013.  The training sessions will focus on media ethics, the role of the media in conflict, gender and media and the role of the media during the election process in Madagascar.

Malawi

In October 2012, UNESCO supported the organization of two training workshop on human rights and gender reporting in Malawi, in partnership with the Malawi National Commission for UNESCO, the Malawi Institute of Journalism and the National Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Malawi Chapter). The workshops provided in-service training to 32 radio, TV and print journalists. The trainings were carried out against the backdrop of increasing religious broadcasters in Malawi whose human rights and gender views tend to be heavily influenced by their religious beliefs. Furthermore, Malawi is located in the SADC region which is reported to have only one in five women journalists and less than five percent of media managers.

Sierra Leone

Considering that 2012 was an election year in post-conflict Sierra Leone, UNESCO supported the training of more than 75 broadcast journalists and producers on elections programming, ensuring that a robust pool of election reporters who could service the Independent Radio Network (IRN, comprising 25 member stations) and cover all 14 Districts of Sierra Leone. The Independent Radio Network was able to develop an election strategy and reviewed its governance structure; collaborated and broadcasted issue-based news items; trained reporters and producers to cover the elections; conducted a series of 'training of trainers' workshops who would assist in training 600 reporters/volunteers to cover the entire election day; and produced a weekly election countdown programme for 8 weeks (October/November 2012). IRN also produced the Parliament Bowl Heart programme, which looked at the activities within Parliament and exchange programmes for Parliamentarians; getting the views of people on the various acts, bills and laws. It also hosted a Women's platform. IRN also developed self- regulatory mechanisms (e.g.: code of conduct and guidelines to moderate political discussions).

Zimbabwe

In 2012, 32 young journalists (16 women) were trained by MISA-Zimbabwe in cooperation with UNESCO, in view of the national referendum and national elections expected to take place in 2013. Training topics included planning for elections reporting, Zimbabwe's election laws, Zimbabwe's electoral cycle, information sourcing techniques, the value of using social media, among others.

Rwanda

Training of journalists on election process and election reporting is among the areas identified for UNESCO intervention in the country under UNDAF´s Outcome 1 (Rule of law- Capacity of Government and partners to sustain a peaceful state where freedom and human rights are fully protected and respected enhanced), and UNESCO is planning to implement specific workshops in this area.

Moreover, through UNESCO´s IPDC, a 2-day workshop on journalistic reporting on democracy, good governance, peace and information, was held in Kigali in August 2012. The project is being carried out by ETOILE.COM in order to strengthen the Rwandan Peace and Democracy Journalists Network (RPDJN). It aims to build the professional capacity of journalists in Rwanda, and is being implemented in close cooperation with the National University of Rwanda (NUR) and the Great Lakes Media Centre (GLMC). Based on UNESCO’s Model Curricula for Journalism Education, NUR and GLMC, the course focused on the production of professional radio talk-shows, investigative journalism, and principles of democracy, good governance and peace-building. The UNESCO Model Curricula will be adapted to the Rwanda context, and the modules will be used in future training programmes. In the framework of the project, RPDJN will be equipped to create programmes on these topics, for distribution to various local media.

Sub-regional activity

East Africa

The celebrations of the World Press Freedom Day by the UNESCO Office in Nairobi (2-4 May 2012) included a 3-day conference on media and elections in East Africa, the importance of media in the transformation of societies and the regulatory environment affecting the sector. Discussion topics included, for instance, balancing freedom of expression and hate speech in a campaign period, and journalism and ethnic-based political election discourse. Information and training material were distributed among participants, who included media practitioners and policy makers from Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, South Sudan, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda.

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