IPDC continues to support East African media
Over the last 29 years UNESCO's International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) has been providing support to developing countries for projects related to freedom of expression, media pluralism and community media. The number of applications for IPDC funding from East African countries has remarkably increased since the last two years. IPDC has responded to emerging media development priorities in the region, such as conflict-sensitive reporting and the coverage of climate change issues.
Recent applications for support came mainly from community-based organizations seeking to build community radios and community multimedia centres. This can be explained by the fact that governments in the region are opening up to community media development and are allocating licences and frequencies to prospective broadcasters much easier.
Journalism schools, many of which are departments of national universities, have also jumped on the occasion: they seek to establish low-power campus radios, which fall under the category of community radios in terms of their countries' licensing regimes. These campus radios are mainly used to improve the balance in the journalism curricula between theory and practice, especially for broadcast media courses.
In 2008 IPDC provided $139,000 for the following projects in Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda.
- Kenya: Community empowerment through community radio The purpose of this project was to establish a community radio in Voi for local communities in Taita and Taveta Districts of Eastern Kenya. The project provided equipment to MWANEDU FM 96.1, which went on air in November 2008, as well as training to the radio station staff.
- Rwanda: Improvement of distribution of private newspapers This project established a distribution network for all private print media in major trading centres in the country. This was achieved by purchasing and installing newspaper stands, and by acquiring delivery motorcycles to collect newspapers from different media houses and to dispatch them to 70 distribution outlets in rural trading centres.
- Somalia: Establishment of Hargeisa campus CMC As a result of this project, a campus radio was established in the beginning of 2009 at the School of Journalism of the University of Hargeisa in Somaliland, a self-governing territory of Somalia. The radio contributes to the better quality of journalism training at the University and provides independent information to surrounding communities, as an alternative to state and private media.
- Somalia: Strengthening East African University journalism In November 2008 a campus radio and a computer centre were installed at the Journalism School of the East African University, located in Puntland, a self-governing territory of Somalia. The main goal of this centre is to strengthen the University's journalism training, as well as to bring plurality and diversity to radio programming in Puntland. Since its creation, the radio has served as an alternative source of public information for students and the community around the East African University.
- Uganda: Strengthening journalism training at Makerere University Makerere University's Department of Mass Communication was one of African potential centres of excellence in journalism training, identified by UNESCO. The project aimed to upgrade broadcasting equipment of the existing campus radio at the University in order to strengthen journalism training. The radio is now providing students and practicing journalists with knowledge and skills necessary to produce creative programmes that both inform the public and involve it into development and democracy. This project also intends to ensure that the journalism curriculum at the University meets the internationally recognised standards outlined in UNESCO's Model Curricula for Journalism Education.
In February 2009 IPDC approved $112,700 for a new set of five projects.
- Regional: Capacity building for media educators on reporting agricultural biotechnology and biofuels in East Africa This project is targeting media educators in ten journalism training institutions in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Its goal is to provide effective training on radio broadcasting and specialized script-writing on biotechnology and biofuels.
- Kenya: Professional capacity building for Kenyan media correspondents This project aims at equipping freelance correspondents based in each of Kenya's eight provinces with the professional skills to effectively report on the post-election realities in Kenya. This will spur active and informed debate about the country's national priorities, thus contributing to national healing and cohesion.
- Rwanda: Building the capacities of the photolab of the Huye School of Journalism and Communication Under this project, a Photojournalism Laboratory will be established at the School of Journalism and Communication of the National University of Rwanda. An average of 150 students will benefit annually from this facility through advanced practical training in photojournalism.
- Somalia: Jowhar community radio Establishment of a community radio in the Middle Shabelle region of Somalia is the goal of this project. Such radio is expected to contribute to community access to information on peace building and to address social injustices in the area.
- Uganda: Establishment of Ngora Community Multimedia Centre, Kumi District The purpose of this project is to establish a community multimedia centre (CMC) in the Ngora country, Kumi District, in order to facilitate self-expression of the population, as well as sharing and accessing information, knowledge and skills.
In 2008-2009 IPDC funded ten projects coming from East African countries. They were chosen on competitive basis: quality of proposals, feasibility and sustainability of the projects were taken into account, among other criteria. Despite funding challenges that IPDC faces, its visibility among media stakeholders in the region continues to increase. This is probably due to the high-impact projects that the Programme has recently supported and the resources it has produced, such as <a href="ev.php?URL_ID=26032&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201">Media Development Indicators</a> and the <a href="ev.php?URL_ID=22578&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201">Guide to Community Multimedia Centres</a>.
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