National Coordinators Promote Sanitation Through The Media

Date: 3rd May 2017

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To mark World Press Freedom Day on May 3rd, we highlight some of the many country-wide media initiatives facilitated by our national coordinators, to make sure sanitation and hygiene feature on national agendas

This article is based on WSSCC’s report Connecting the Dots  that highlights the work of its national coordinators, who advance the WASH agenda in 16 countries. Download it here

The press and the media are a powerful tool to influence public opinion and reach decision-makers on subjects that matter, like sanitation and hygiene.  For effective advocacy work, WSSCC’s national coordinators are building and maintaining relationships with the media to encourage more journalists to write about water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) challenges.

Menstrual Hygiene Management covered in one of Uganda’s leading daily newspapers. © WSSCC

‘La Caravane Nationale WASH’ in Niger

Last year, Ms. Ai Abarchi, the national coordinator in Niger, facilitated a country-wide roadshow for a national network of journalists working in WASH.  Run in partnership with WaterAid Niger, ‘La caravane nationale WASH’, or the ‘national WASH caravan’ went from region to region, hosting open air debates and talks at health centres and with youth groups, spreading good hygiene messages and raising WASH awareness among the general public, media and decision makers alike.  A huge success, the initiative continues to reach out to thousands of Nigeriens.

The power of celebrity  in Nepal

In Nepal, national coordinator Mr. Guna Raj Shrestha worked with two famous TV comedians – Dhurmus and Suntali – to develop a 50-minute documentary, on toilet use, handwashing with soap and menstrual hygiene. The video was played in over 500 long distance buses every day over a three-month period, reaching an estimated 80,000 people. A range of cartoons, graphics and jingles were also developed on handwashing with soap and menstrual hygiene, broadcasted in cinemas TV and radio stations.

WASH Journalist of the Year in Malawi

In Malawi, national coordinator Ms. Ngabaghila Chatata is taking another approach. With funding from WSSCC, she is working with the Media Institute of Southern Africa to organize and promote the Annual Media Awards as part of the celebrations to mark World Press Freedom Day.  A category on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Journalist of the Year, for both print and electronic media, was introduced thanks to her efforts and contributions. In 2016, the award was won by Mr. Cliff Kawanga from The Daily Times.

Cliff Kawanga from the Daily Times in Malawi won the WASH Journalist of the Year Award. © WSSCC

The Media Fellowship Project in Cambodia
In Cambodia, national coordinator Dr. Chea Samnang launched a media initiative on rural sanitation called the Media Fellowship Project in collaboration with WaterAid, UNICEF, the GSF-supported programme CRSHIP, the Cambodian Ministry of Rural Development and the World Bank. Financed by WSSCC, the initiative aims to increase awareness on rural sanitation amongst journalists as well as to strengthen their overall capacity to report on sanitation and hygiene.
This on-going project includes an innovative coaching programme, where a senior journalist provides coordinated support to an assigned junior journalist.

A one-day media orientation workshop on rural sanitation took place in collaboration with the Media Department of Phnom Penh Royal University in 2016. Following the training, a Media Awards competition was launched at the end of 2016 where nine journalists from radio, TV, print and online media received a Letter of Appreciation for their reporting on rural sanitation and hygiene.
It was exciting for me to meet and interview different people and report on air on rural sanitation improvement and its impact on economic development. Before the orientation workshop, I’d never reported on sanitation and I did not understand clearly the importance of sanitation and hygiene. I commit to continue to interview and report on this important topic,” said Than Reasmey, a young journalist from Veayo FM Radio in Cambodia.

A Handbook for WASH Journalists in Uganda

In Uganda, the national coordinator, Ms. Jane Nabunnya Mulumba, facilitated the development of a handbook for WASH journalists to help build the capacity of the WASH Media Network (WEMNET).

The handbook led to increased engagement with key stakeholders in the media sector, and is helping ensure that the WASH story is told in a clear and accurate way to enhance the likelihood of follow-up action.

Additionally, Ms. Mulumba supported the inaugural WASH Media Awards in Uganda which is organized by the WASH Media Network (WEMNET)

WASH articles linked to SDGs in Tanzania

In Tanzania, national coordinator Ms. Wilhelmina Malima raises awareness in media houses on the Sustainable Development Goals and their implications for the WASH sector by advocating for more quality reporting on the issues of sanitation and hygiene.

Her efforts led to an increase in WASH-related articles in national dailies from very few to more than one story a month.  Journalists are better aware of the importance of WASH to other SDGs, and position sanitation and hygiene issues as key contributors to other development goals, such as health, education and inequality.

Journalists in Tanzania attended a training on to understand the complexities around WASH. © WSSCC

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