The Communications, Advocacy & Policy Opportunities and Outreach for Poop (CAPOOP) group has launched its first ever sanitation media fellowship. On the side-lines of the 20th AfWA Congress, eight fellows from across Africa participated in a media training before participating and documenting key events during the Congress.
CAPOOP is an alliance of like-minded organisations committed to achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations by 2030. With one in three Africans living without adequate sanitation facilities, it has become more important than ever to raise awareness on the need for inclusive and sustainable sanitation, says the group.
Given a perceived low volume of high-quality, in-depth coverage of these issues, in August CAPOOP, led by Speak Up Africa launched a continent-wide sanitation media fellowship. The media fellowship will educate journalists on opportunities and challenges and improve their access to the key news and updates relating to sanitation across Africa.
This will therefore increase their interest and capacity to write about these issues in the medium to long-term, improving quality and quantity of sanitation coverage. Representing a broad range of influential media organisations and backgrounds, the following eight journalists were selected to participate in the programme: Jesdias Likpete, Benin, L’Expression; Amani Mounkaila, Niger, La Source; Nadege Christelle Epse Donfack Bowa, Cameroon, Le Messager; Mouniratou Lougue, Burkina Faso, Droit Libre TV; Abdullahi Tsanni, Nigeria, African Newspage; Jenipher Asiimwe, Uganda, Uganda Broadcasting Corporation; Jessica Ahedor, Ghana, Pan African Visions; and Kenneth Kavulu, Uganda, BBS Terefayina.
During the application process, each fellow proposed their own media project, designed to tackle or raise awareness on a sanitation problem in their country. Following the training, each media fellow will produce four articles throughout the year, with the guidance and support of the CAPOOP group, as well as media experts.
The activity commenced at the African Water Association (AfWA) Congress, a biennial gathering of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene experts from across Africa. Taking place in Kampala, Uganda, AfWA’s 2020 Congress seeks to build on progress to achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals of adequate water and sanitation access for all.
Whilst in Uganda, the sanitation media fellows will attend key events such as the Women’s Forum and Youth’s Forum, two groups with unique sanitation requirements, as well as the prestigious Mayor’s Forum. Throughout the Congress, fellows will be able to speak with leading figures in the sanitation sector, in an important introductory step to increasing conversation and sharing vital information on sanitation issues and solutions.
Yacine Djibo, Executive Director of Speak Up Africa, says: “Supporting these fellows is a privilege and an honour for us; we have continuously advocated for the crucial role that journalists play in holding governments accountable and implementing change. The sanitation media fellowship is a great way to build these journalists’ capacity for reporting on the issues, and there is no better place to launch it than at the AfWA Congress.”
Sylvain Usher, AfWA Executive Director, adds: Engaging with journalists on the topic of sanitation is one of the best ways to raise awareness and spread knowledge and best practices on WASH issues and we are proud to play part in this important initiative on the side-lines of our Congress this year. By selecting journalists from different backgrounds, with different areas of interest, we will be able to create positive change by supporting these journalists throughout the year.”
Abdullahi Tsanni, selected media fellow of African Newspage, from Nigeria, comments: “I feel incredibly passionate about my role, as a science journalist, in supporting my community. Often, there are boundaries to reporting, whether that be a lack of resources or support. However, this CAPOOP media fellowship allows me to do what I love, while receiving the support of experts. Attending the African Water Association (AfWA) Congress will be a valuable experience for me and I am hopeful for continuing my reporting on this vital matter.”
Nadège Christelle Bowa, selected media fellow of Le Messager, from Cameroon, concludes: “In my home country of Cameroon, access to water and sanitation constitutes a real problem. As journalists, it is crucial that we have access to reliable sanitation data in order to document the sanitation crisis which is happening on the continent. This CAPOOP media fellowship is therefore an amazing opportunity for us to bring about change and ensure that populations, decision makers and private sector companies are aware of this crisis. The time to prioritise sanitation is now!”
The sanitation media fellowship is supported by a group of organisations working to improve sanitation conditions in Africa. The partners work across Africa using communications and advocacy to further national sanitation agendas.
They include; the African Water Association (AfWA), WaterAid, Speak Up Africa, the Africa Population Health Research Centre, Sanitation and Water for All (SWA), IRC (WASH), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Niyel, the Centre for Water Security and Cooperation, the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) and USAID’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Finance programme.