Posted by: africanpressorganization | 26 March 2009

Regional journalists call for involvement in data generation for ECOWAS early warning system



Regional journalists call for involvement in data generation for ECOWAS early warning system


ABUJA, Nigeria, March 26, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Regional journalists who participated in a sensitization programme on the ECOWAS Early Warning Network (ECOWARN) on Wednesday, 25th March 2009 urged the ECOWAS Commission to evolve a mechanism for enriching its data base through the participation of journalists in Member States in the collection, processing and feeding of information to the System.


Open source information, mostly available in the media and processed through the four Zonal Observatories of ECOWARN and national focal points, is one of the major sources of information for the System whose assessments and policy prescriptions enable the Commission to take informed decisions about conflict situations in Member States.


“There is the need to facilitate networking between the Zonal offices and national focal points while there should be effective networking between journalists of Member States on issues relating to peace and security,” the journalists said in their recommendations at the end of the two-day sensitization held in Abidjan.


Furthermore, they urged ECOWARN program implementers to reach out to journalists in the communities to get vital information on specific situations.


They also urged the Commission to encourage media owners to equip journalists to enable them report in a timely manner on conflict situations in the region while regular meetings, including workshops, should be held to build the capacity of the media on the operations of the ECOWARN.


In order for journalists to effectively contribute towards in resolving some of the challenges facing regional citizens, the participants urged their colleagues to focus their reporting on addressing social and human issues such as poverty and other factors underlying conflicts.


“Honesty and responsibility are required in the practice of journalism and journalists should place peace and development at the heart of their reportage,” they said.


The participants also addressed the vexed issue of access to information and called for a regional mechanism to ensure unhindered access to reliable information, especially those perceived by the authorities as security related in order to empower journalists to effectively play their role.


They also urged authorities in the region to establish mechanisms to support countries in crisis while literature on Early Warning should be available in the three (3) ECOWAS official languages – English, French and Portuguese.


In order to help inculcate the elements of ECOWARN in regional journalists at an early stage, the workshop said its tenets should be included in the curriculum of journalism training institutions in the region.


The workshop was formally opened by the Ivorian Minister of African Integration, Mr. Amadou Kone, who used the occasion to extol the critical role of ECOWARN in creating a peaceful atmosphere appropriate for pursuing the regional vision of sustained development through the generation and analysis of data that enables the authorities to take appropriate preventive measures against conflicts in Member States.


The Minister said the “involvement in the resolution of numerous conflicts in our region distracts our community from its initial objective of economic development of Member States through regional integration, ” citing the huge deployment of regional resources to maintain peace in Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone.


He repeated the obligation on the media to inform and educate citizens on issues relating to socio-economic development, particularly on security matters, because conflicts disorganize and hinder the entire system.


Welcoming the participants, Colonel Yoro Kone, Director of the ECOWAS Early Warning Department (EWD) called for the prioritization and integration of peace as a natural phenomenon in the culture of the people, adding that peace cannot be imposed or forced on parties.


He called on non-state actors, including the media, to take ownership of the legitimacy of concretizing the political will of policy makers to ensure peace, security and integration among the people.


The Special Representative of the President of the ECOWAS Commission in Cote d’Ivoire, Ambassador Kehinde Olisemeka, also underscored the importance of the workshop in creating awareness among the media and as partners in creating public consciousness of the challenges to peace in the region. He then urged the participants to examine challenges facing Member States and explore the extent to which the media has failed or succeeded in its responsibility of informing the people of certain volatile situations and flashpoints politically, socially and economically.


Various presentations were made on the dimensions of ECOWARN to the 33 journalists from all the 15 Member States who participated in the workshop.


The workshop is part of the continuing efforts to enhance the effectiveness of its Early Warning System and, in particular, to boost media participation in the mechanism. It was primarily to apprise the media about the work of the Commission’s Early Warning Department in conflict prevention, solicit their cooperation in disseminating information provided in a timely, accurate and reliable manner.



SOURCE : Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS)


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