Supporting independent media to promote peace and democracy in Afghanistan

Tuesday 7 February 2006

The current project, taking place in 2006-2009, focuses on enhancing the skills of independent media practitioners in order to increase their ability to report on social issues essential for peace, reconstruction and democratization of Afghanistan. Democracy in any society needs awareness of realities of the world around them and understanding of basic rights. Over two decades of war and destruction has had its toll in the regions. A lot needs to be done to make the public aware of issues at stake and encourage them in participating in the process of reconstruction. Democratic elections are necessary but not sufficient to strengthen democracy in Afghanistan. The foundation of democratic norms placed by the Bonn Accord followed by its second phase of Presidential elections held in 2004 should be taken as the basis for building a democratic culture in the Afghan civil society. Reporting and packaging of information on social issues in the regions is an important element of the proposed project. Given the vast rural majority of the country and limited mobility of the people living there, it becomes important that electronic and print form of reporting reaches all parts of the country. Such national reporting of local issues will act as a cohesive force and give a national character to the country divided on ethnical lines.

Nascent democracy in Afghanistan is growing out of the rubble of decades of war and destruction. Popular participation in the first ever democratic elections of 2004 has laid the foundation for a new Afghanistan. The overall objective of this project is to build and enhance media capacities of the civil society organizations in Afghanistan as a means of strengthening democracy. The project will target and promote collaboration between civil society organizations, independent journalists and existing media under the thematic focus of reporting and messaging on health/education/human rights/gender issues and right to habitation. With Canadian input from civil society organizations, it will promote exchange on the understanding and use of media in a democratic process. The main activities include: training NGOs in print and electronic media and seminars.

The specific objective of the project is to promote a better understanding of the role of media in the democratic development and reconstruction of Afghanistan

Activities

Year 1

Seminar Series: Sensitizing NGOs and community-based organizations to the role and use of media to disseminate information in the regions

This activity includes a series of six (6) seminars for 32 participants from all the participating NGOs in Afghanistan. Practitioners from civil society organizations in Afghanistan are gaining experience in various fields of their work on social issues relevant to the development and reconstruction of the society. All of them have a communication section in their projects that enables them to record and disseminate information of their activities. But this packaging is geared towards their target groups only. The aim of this series of seminars is to sensitize these practitioners to the importance of media in communicating their message to a larger audience in the regions. The 6 seminars will be on the following themes:

Understanding Media
- Information as a Right
- Awareness and Empowerment
- Building public opinion: Role of Media in a Democracy
- Regional Experience: Media and Democracy in India
- Women and Media: European Experience

Each seminar will feature a keynote speaker. Seminars will be followed by workshops in smaller groups to discuss the issues in more details. At the end of the series we will have 6 papers of the keynote presentations and comments and discussion notes from the participants.

Year 1 and 2

Training Sessions: Training NGO practitioners in the regions with media skills in print, audio, video and photo journalism.

These workshops are aimed at 32 participants from the civil society organizations working in the regions of Afghanistan. The participants will be trained in print, audio, video and photo journalism by experts in their respective fields. These courses will follow the syllabus designed specifically for the Afghan conditions by the experts and will cover topics such as: understanding the media tools (camera, audio recorders such as DAT, still camera, computers), production, editing, hardware and software, editorializing and packaging news reports, etc.

The courses will follow the patterns developed by communication studies in established institutions.

Year 2 and 3

Production:

The media programs will be organized for the 32 participants in the training workshops. The production will be done in two batches of 16 people each.

To begin with, the project will have:
- 2 video camera recording units (Each unit will be carried by a team of 3 people)
- 2 audio recording units (Each unit will be carried by a team of 3 people)
- 2 still cameras with accessories (Each camera will be carried by a team of 3 people)
- 2 laptop computers (One laptop will be carried by one person)

Each participant will come back from production with a media document. Thus, in all we will have 32 media documents including12 videos, 12 audio, and 8 photo and print stories.

This activity is not only designed to train the NGOs in media reporting but also to encourage the collective approach by working in groups.

Year 3

Conference

A national conference will be organized which will be open to all, but special groups will be targeted: media practitioners, NGOs and government department employees. The conference will also showcase the work of the 32 participants in the program.

Keynote speakers will be invited from established media outlets in and around Kabul, government departments dealing with the media policy in Afghanistan, and specialists in journalism.

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