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PANOS releases report on key successes in building stronger media and more informed citizens in West Africa


PANOS releases report on key successes in building stronger media and more informed citizens in West Africa 

 

 DAKAR, SENEGAL (February 3, 2016)— The Panos Institute for West Africa (PIWA), a Dakar-based media development organization, has released its latest activities report that highlight landmark achievements in engaging traditional and new media outlets, training civil society groups and establishing more inclusive public spaces for engagement in West Africa. 

 PIWA, which is part of the larger PANOS global network, was established in 2000 as a means of helping build stronger, more participative, inclusive and accountable democratic societies by using media as a vehicle for informing citizens and holding leaders to account. This latest report provides an overview of the key transformative projects that are helping ensure hundreds of journalists and editors in West Africa are adequately equipped with the necessary traditional and new media skills to report on issues that may be considered taboo - such as gender based violence and gay rights - or issues otherwise left unexamined - such as parliamentary budgets and land tenure rights.

 “The role of media in the democratic process is essential,” explains Diana Senghor, Executive Director and one of PIWA’s founding members. “Our work is about helping African media expand the voices of African citizens, especially those who are marginalized. We are concerned with how media contributes to a democratic culture and how it engenders an informed public space for discussion - one where citizens have their voices heard and can participate in decisions that matter to them.” 

 The PIWA 34-page report provides a succinct, results-based look at how the Institute approaches media development through the lens of governance, gender, migration and multimedia/culture. PIWA’s main objectives are to establish open spaces for dialogue, produce high quality media products and strengthen the capacity of media and civil society. They work with a variety of players, from long-standing partners such as the Jamana (media) cooperative in Mali, the Union of local radios in Côte d’Ivoire and the Centre for International Trade and Development in Guinea to newer and short-term partnerships.

 “As a flexible and adaptable organization, PIWA constantly reinvigorates its efforts by collaborating alongside new and upcoming change-makers in the region, and as the opportunities arise,” says Sophie Nick PIWA’s Program Manager. “PIWA has been able to meet the needs and changing contexts in this dynamic and often volatile region by keeping an ear to the ground and partnering with a diverse array of new actors, from youth activist groups in Senegal to LGBT organizations in Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire.”

 Innovation is a value PIWA extols and many of its tangible successes, as reported in the publication, can be attributed to the use of creative methodologies such as the Oral Testimony Format, where journalists allow citizens to record and broadcast their own stories, and Radio Debates, where a presenter convenes leaders, members of civil society and local experts, with a variety of opinions and backgrounds, to openly discuss a particular issue and respond to inquires from citizens who call in. Both techniques have proven invaluable ways of bringing marginalized citizens, such as women, into the conversation and ensuring an open and accountable conversation can take place.

 As PIWA moves into its next strategic planning period, they expect to remain focused on perennial issues such as women’s rights and youth engagement. But ardent efforts will also continue in newer areas - mediascapes such as the online arena, and the more sensitive but equally pertinent domains of support for defenders of sexually marginalized populations.

 “PIWA is committed to bringing about social change through the media in West Africa,” says Senghor. “We know it’s a long road, but once paved it will open the way for stronger democracy to flourish in our region.”

 To download the most recent PIWA report, please visit our website

 PIWA (Panos Institute West Africa) is dedicated to helping democratize communication in West Africa and strengthen public spaces to foster an informed and engaged citizenry.

 

 For more information, contact:

 Mariama Soumare, Secretary for the Panos Institute West Africa (PIWA), secretaire@panos-ao.org +221 33 849 16 66