Freshwater Action Network
– grassroots influencing on water and sanitation

WASH journalists dare to share

The Global Forum on Sanitation and Hygiene (GFSH), which concluded in Mumbai last week, offered a good opportunity for journalists from South Asia and Africa to share their experiences and learn from each other. The five day event, convened by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), allowed for focus on marginalized and excluded communities. A special session was held for journalists working on WASH (Water Sanitation and Hygiene) issues.

Linking networks

Over 20 journalists from African countries, and a similar number from South Asian countries including Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, participated in the meeting. The journalists were members of the West Africa Water and Sanitation Journalists Network and the South Asia WASH Media Forum. The forums were formed in 2010 and 2011, respectively, for the promotion of WASH issues in African and South Asian nations.

For the first time members of both the forums came together on one platform. The objective of the meeting was to strengthen both the networks and to link them with each other for future learning.

At the meeting, the African journalists' explained how their network functions. Their strong network has a secretariat and more than 150 members. The secretariat in Accra (Ghana) communicates with the members of its country level networks in 13 African nations on a daily basis. These journalists act as a catalysts, working as a watch dog for the government and ensuring that it produces people friendly policies which are implemented true to their letter and spirit. Network members said that only 3 to 4 active people who have time to devote, knowledge of the issues, and some space to operate from, are required for successful operation.

The South Asia Wash Media forum - though at a very early stage of development, also presented its year-long journey from formation to the present - where it has at least 50 members and a blog.

Journalist training

The media session also covered training of the WASH journalists by the WSSCC:

Dr Mona Khanna, a medical practitioner, who also reports on medical and health related issues on FOX news in the US, shared her reporting methods during the emergency situations like Katrina hurricane.

The Communication officer of the World Bank, Vandana Mehra, shared her own experiences in enhancing the learning and understanding of the journalists.

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