Sunday, January 9, 2011

Local Journalists At Work In Southern Sudan

Internews - Information Saves Lives - photo of a Sudanese journalist conducting an interview

Share on Facebook or Twitter Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Sudan Referendum: Local Media Help Citizens Understand Voting Issues and Cope with Health Concerns

On January 9, southern Sudanese citizens will vote either to form an independent nation or to remain part of a united Sudan.
Because over 120,000 people have arrived in Southern Sudan since the beginning of November 2010 to participate in the referendum, there are fears of a widespread humanitarian crisis in the region.
Community station Radio Miraya in Southern Sudan took the initiative to increase its humanitarian messaging and reports to help affected population in the event of a new emergency, with the support of two humanitarian media specialists from Internews.

"It is the first time for my community to have a referendum so it is important for them to be educated and well informed of the steps that they will need to follow. If they understand the forthcoming referendum well, then they will be able to make the right decision either to vote for unity or separation."
– James Keer Noon, Nhomlaau FM reporter
Internews has also been working in Sudan to ensure that journalists have the information and skills to report on all aspects of the referendum process. An intensive three-day workshop was held for the reporters at Nhomlaau FM ("Freedom" in Dinka) in Malualkon, Northern Bahr el Ghazal State; as well as a Reporting for Peace training at Voice of the Community radio station in Kauda, Southern Kordofan State.

Broadcast media in Southern Sudan gear up to provide lifesaving information

Horea Salajan and a sudanese journalist
Juma Delu, Producer at Radio Miraya, and Horea Salajan from Internews, edit a PSA on Yellow Fever. The PSAs inform people in Southern Sudan about what the disease is, how to prevent it, and where vaccinations are available. (Jacobo Quintanilla/Internews)
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), over 120,000 people have arrived in Southern Sudan since the beginning of November 2010, drawn by fears about their citizenship rights in a divided Sudan and longing for a better life at home.
Transportation for both organized and spontaneous returns in many areas has helped to prevent congestion in transit sites and ensure that returnees reach their final destinations. However, spontaneous transit sites with close living conditions have contributed to increased risks of communicable diseases like measles.
Despite current efforts from the Government of Southern Sudan and the international community, there are fears of a widespread humanitarian crisis in a region that almost entirely depends on foreign aid. In Southern Sudan, one of the poorest and most underdeveloped regions on Earth, a girl under 15 has a greater chance of dying giving birth than finishing primary school.
Radio Miraya in Southern Sudan took the initiative to set up a stronger information flow structure to increase its humanitarian messaging and reports to help the affected population in the event of a new emergency. In support of this initiative, two humanitarian media specialists from Internews are working with Radio Miraya to support the production of emergency messaging and humanitarian news and information ahead of, during, and after the week-long voting period that will determine the political future of the country. ( Full story)

Local Journalists Help Citizens Deal with Confusion and Tensions Leading up to the Sudan Referendum

At the beginning of the Nhomlaau FM workshop, reporters interviewed a diverse selection of community members to find out exactly what the people understood about the referendum, and alternatively, what questions they had. The interviews revealed strong opinions on the overall issue of separation versus unity, but little knowledge of the referendum process itself.
Based on these interviews, the staff created a series of public service announcements (PSAs) about important details such as voter eligibility, how to register, and how to vote. The PSAs also explained the differences between the referendum for southern Sudanese to choose separation or unity, and the concurrent referendum for residents of the Abyei border region to choose whether to belong to northern or southern Sudan.
Reporting for Peace

Journalists at a workshop
Internews trained journalists in Kauda on conflict sensitive reporting with reference to reporing on events leading up to the referendum. (Gordon Mangum/Internews)
At the beginning of the three day reporting for peace training in Kauda, Rashid Ali, a youth leader and volunteer for Voice of the Community 88FM, said, "As a young person who has seen war, I would have loved to see the right of a referendum given to Southern Kordofan. Now we are being told that Abyei will be able to join the South yet they are part of our state. What I think will happen now is we will grab our guns and go back to war to fight for our right, which will be to also become independent." At the end of the training, Rashid's sentiments had changed. "I appreciate having been part of the reporting for peace training, because now I know that as a volunteer at the station I cannot air my personal views. Having also watched the film on the Rwandan genocide during the training I saw how influential radio can be. I don't think I want to see us go back to war and especially being held responsible as a journalist for making it happen." ( Full story)

About Internews

Internews is an international media development organization established in 1982. Its mission is to empower local media worldwide to provide people with the news and information that they need, the ability to connect, and the means to make their voices heard. Internews’ work in Southern Sudan is supported by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the emergency preparedness response in Southern Sudan is also partly funded by the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation.

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