Journalists from across Africa gathered in Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa for training on Disaster Risk Reduction – DRR reporting. Under the umbrella of Disaster Risk Reduction Network for African Journalists – DIRAJ which is a membership association, over forty journalist from twenty three African countries underwent training on wide range of issues relating to disaster risk reporting.
“There has been a general sense of helplessness among the masses when it comes to getting information on disasters given the inadequacy of information coming from government authorities,” said David Owino, DIRAJ secretary general. “The purpose of this training is therefor to build capacity among journalists and increase the quantity and quality of disaster reporting in the continent,” he added.
Reporting on disasters has largely been reactionary as opposed to pro-action with information only following after disasters have happened. This, according to Isabel Njihia, Program Officer at UNDRR Regional Office for Africa is the narrative that the partnership between DIRAJ and UNDRR seeks to change. “The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction is a focal point of the UN in coordinating all disaster risk reduction efforts within the UN system and among all partners. The partnership between UNDRR and DIRAJ is therefor of great importance in helping keep update on DRR in Africa as we work together to build a resilient continent,” she stated.
The four day training saw participants taken through the essential elements of DRR reporting to empower them with the requisite knowledge and information pertaining to DRR reporting. DIRAJ chairman Edward Wanyonyi observed that there has been a perception that specializing in disaster reporting limits one’s journalistic scope, “We are training journalists and sharing experiences on how to report from across the board as disaster reporters and by the end of it, they get to appreciate the more there is to storytelling in DRR.,” he said.
“I have been reporting on environmental issues but I never appreciated the DRR aspects even in my own stories as much as I do now after undergoing this training,” observed Elzahrah Ibrahim, a participant from Sudan. Another participant, Idriss Latiff from Ghana said; “Every journalists needs to freshen up every now and then. This training will add so much to the knowledge we have in disaster reporting,” said Idriss Latiff while Jainaba Sonko from The Gambia added that; “This training is very important and timely especially for Africa considering the vulnerability of the continent when it comes to disasters. I feel I’m now more equipped to push for better policies when it comes to Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction issues.”
The training was organised by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction – UNDRR in partnership with DIRAJ through the support of the European Commission’s ACP programme of building disaster resilience in Sub-Saharan Africa. “Journalists have a significant role to play in the disaster risk reduction cycle,” as Isabel Njihia, Programmes Officer at UNDRR Regional Office for Africa observed, adding that “Collaboration with DIRAJ has been very successful in ensuring the massages about disasters reach the masses in furthering the attainment of Target E of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.”
The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 – 2030 is a global blueprint for reducing disaster risks and loses. The framework which has seven targets; A to G was adopted at the Third UN World Conference in Sendai, Japan in 2015 and emphasises on the need for governments, partners and communities to work together to ensure safer, sustainable future. Target E of the framework is to substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by the year 2020.
Disaster Risk Reduction Network for African Journalists – DIRAJ started as a peer group with initial 17 members in 2015 and continues to grow with a current membership of 64 journalists drown from 24 African countries. The network is aiming to grow beyond Africa and become a global platform by the end of the year 2020.