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The event, which was organized under the aegis of the RUSHPIN (Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion in Nigeria) Programme, is the first of two such workshops being held in conjunction with the national WASH Media Network.
“The aim….is to bring attention to issues in the WASH sector as well as to effectively communicate progress made and results…to the widest possible audience,” explained Ms Boluwatito Awe, Communications and Learning Officer for United Purpose Nigeria, the executing agency for the WSSCC-funded programme.
The training session included a series of modules on how to develop a WASH-related story idea; pitching; sourcing for relevant WASH data; and the use of photography in storytelling.
“Photos and videos are excellent when they are used to depict the true situation of things in our communities where there are acute water shortages, poor sanitary conditions and a lack of basic amenities, especially toilets,” stated Mr Nelson Owoicho, a seasoned photojournalist who served as one of the trainers.
Participants also learned the WASH architecture in Nigeria in general and in Cross River in particular, with explanations as to the roles of government, stakeholders and partners in the sector.
Speaking to the journalists, who represent 13 media outlets and three agencies from Cross River, Mr Isine Ibanga, facilitator, said, “WASH is important in everything we do, and our duty as journalists is to ensure that we tell these stories in a way that will draw the attention of government and other stakeholders.” He went on to note that, unless WASH issues are addressed, and sanitation and hygiene are provided for all, the Sustainable Development Goals will not be achieved.
In addition to the classroom training, United Purpose organized a site visit for the journalists, who visited two communities in Biase Local Government Areas for an opportunity to practice the skills learned during the training.
The workshop was also the occasion to inaugurate a new chapter of the WASH Media Network for Cross River State. Ms Florence Oluohu was selected to serve as State Coordinator, with Ms Abenmire Williams and Mr Archibong Jeremiah taking on the roles, respectively, of Secretary and Treasurer.
Ms Awe emphasized the importance of the training opportunities like this as it will help harness the power of the media to build a broad-based understanding among the general public and to foster acceptance and support of initiatives aimed at improving WASH in Cross River State.