‘Brownbag’ lunch highlights successes of Media Capacity Building Project
By Ryan Laddey
Pictured: Journalists interview women making briquets—compressed blocks of sawdust and recycled papers that is used as a fuel—during a field trip in Malawi as part of the MCBP's national training.
In early January the AAP held a ‘brownbag’ lunch presentation at UN headquarters in New York City on its Media Capacity Building Project (MCBP), which supports the professional development of journalists in all 20 AAP countries.
The MCBP was launched in November 2010 in coordination with the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation (SU/SSC). South-South cooperationis a broad framework for collaboration among countries of the global south in the political, economic, social, cultural, environmental and technical domains.
Mami Yamada, Chief of the Division for Partnership and Resource Mobilisation for SU/SSC, opened the event.
‘The Special Unit for South-South Cooperation contributes to the solidarity among peoples of the South and builds the capacity of developing countries to identify, analyse and solve their development issues,’ said Ms Yamada.
‘In the context of South-South cooperation, the MCBP is building self-reliance among journalists in Africa to better inform the climate change debate in their respective countries. Journalists trained by the AAP are sharing knowledge, skills, expertise and resources to meet their [countries’] development goals through their coordinated efforts.’
Ms Yamada’s remarks were followed by a presentation by Jacqueline Frank, Regional Project Coordinator of the MCBP. Ms Frank described the MCBP’s recent activities, including the kick-off training-of-trainers workshop in Nairobi in June 2011. She also described the series of national and regional workshops that followed, which, so far, have taken place in 18 AAP countries. By building participants’ knowledge of climate science the and connection between climate change, development and most aspects of human well-being in Africa, these workshops empower journalists to authoritatively cover climate change issues and to write stories their editors will approve and their readers will understand.
Rollout nearing completion
The MCBP works in four clusters of five countries, with a senior journalist serving as Team Leader for each cluster. These four Team Leaders have since conducted a series of national workshops, which, along with training local journalists, have helped develop the attendees’ community of practice. To date, 215 journalists from 19 AAP countries have been trained through the MCBP’s workshops, with many travelling to neighbouring countries to take part.
The MCBP also maintains a Facebook page to assist in building a network of journalists reporting on climate change-related issues around Africa. The MCBP’s media resource directory—an online library of relevant information—will also provide background information for journalists on climate science and data.
In December 2011 the MCBP supported five young African journalists to travel with the ‘We Have Faith – Act Now for Climate Justice’ caravan, which travelled from Nairobi through six African countries on its way to the COP17 climate change negotiations in Durban. The campaign called for leaders to demand a just and legally binding climate treaty at the negotiations. The AAP-sponsored journalists reported and chronicled their experiences from the road. An additional four senior African journalists were sponsored to attend the COP. They were trained by the MCBP prior to the negotiations and spent two weeks in Durban reporting on the conference.
A legacy of training
In an engaging Q&A session that followed Ms Frank’s presentation a number of issues were raised including the sustainability of the project after the AAP’s end-date.
In response, Ms Frank said the MCBP is carrying out a number of activities to ensure journalists will be able to continue to have access to forums for discussion and track this important issue.
‘The structure of the project is to identify and use African expertise: the trainers, the climate change science specialists, the gender experts—as much as possible we endeavour to use local experts in each country. In addition to building relationships between media and scientists, the increased understanding and skills of workshop participants ensures sustainability. They will not need UNDP to find and make use of one another in future,’ said Ms Frank.
The event closed with remarks from Takeshi Kohno, Special Advisor and Senior Programme Advisor for Japan Affairs at the Bureau for External Relations and Advocacy. Mr Kohno explained that the AAP and the MCBP are closely aligned with Japan’s overseas development assistance goals. Japan plans to commit US$80 million to UNDP’s core funding and US$306 million to non-core funding in 2012.
Mr Kohno also commented on the scale of the AAP’s work and its innovative approaches.
‘AAP’s Media Capacity Building Project as explained in today’s session demonstrated its catalytic role to increase awareness of climate change in African journalism. As Prime Minister of Japan Mr Noda proclaimed in the UN General Assembly meeting in September 2011, the Japanese Government will host the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development [TICAD 5] in 2013. I hope that the MCBP will be a great example among AAP projects which can proudly be said is a successful outcome of this visionary program leading up to TICAD 5,’ concluded Mr Kohno.