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WaterAid in West Africa and WSSCC have formed a partnership to support a regional network of journalists across West Africa with a view to increasing citizens’ voice in WASH and ensuring region-wide impact on influencing.
The regional network brings together members of existing national networks from Ghana, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Mali, Benin, Togo and Senegal as well as journalists from Niger and Liberia, who are in the process of forming networks in their own countries.
There is a common recognition that campaigning and raising awareness are vital to increasing access to water and sanitation across West Africa. The media is a key platform for bringing these issues to the attention of decision makers, and informing people in order to raise their voices.
The news agenda across the region is typically focused on politics and there has been limited coverage of water and sanitation issues. The knock-on effect of this is a lack of attention at a political level, low demand from citizens and a lack of knowledge among media organizations and journalists.
The partnership will support the journalists with access to sector information, analysis, case studies and building network capacity. It will grant seed funding for the initial three years, with a view to the network becoming financially independent and sourcing funding from outside the partnership. The network is expected to become an open and collaborative regional resource for gathering and sharing information on WASH.
In a three-day meeting in December 2010 in Bamako, Mali, the journalists from the nine countries and representatives from WaterAid, WSSCC, WASH United and Pulitzer Centre on Crisis Reporting discussed the experiences of the journalists so far and their vision for the regional network.
It was agreed that the regional network will act as a platform to share knowledge and experience between journalists, work together at key moments for maximum campaigning impact, amplify the voices of the poor, support national networks and project WASH issues at the regional, continental and international level. The network’s official vision is to become ‘The media network for informed actions on WASH in West Africa’. The network’s committee members are from Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Senegal, and they will spearhead the plans to focus on AfricaSan in July 2011 in Rwanda.