MISA challenges development partners


‘Capacitate journos to report on disaster risk reduction’


MASERU – Media Institute of Southern Africa-Lesotho Chapter (MISA Lesotho) national director, Lekhetho Ntsukunyane, has challenged development partners and international organisations working in the country to support capacity building training for journalists to be able to report adequately on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). According to Ntsukunyane, reporting on DRR remains a challenge as media houses lack resources and the financial muscle to get on the field to pursue relevant newsworthy stories – and are thus compelled to rely on international organisations, who are sometimes of public relations exercises.

Ntsukunyane said to have an investigative and informative news article is always challenge because of the dire financial position of almost all of the country’s media outlets. He indicated that one cannot report on DRR without knowing how to report it. “I, therefore, challenge the World Vision Lesotho to facilitate the training of our journalists and take them for field trips to produce special publications on DRR if we are to do it right,” he said.

Speaking at a media breakfast meeting this week, Ntsukunyane outlined the challenges faced by the media that hinder their objective reporting on DRR stories. He noted that beside the challenge of resources and finance, there’s a challenge of capacity building and of reporting time frame which journalists are faced with very often as editors need stories filed within a short space of time; which works against coming out with properly sourced and accurately balanced reports.

“The issue of DRR is neither about the World Vision, nor MISA Lesotho or the World Food Programme or whoever. Stories aren’t supposed to always be about which organisation said what because sometimes that’s what leads to editors spiking stories because they lack human voices,” Ntsukunyane said, adding that if organisations need such stories they should pay for them because they are advertorials. He then advised reporters to have voices of those affected or impacted by DRR issue. “Talk to people on the ground – women, men, children and the elders, talk to everyone, have their thoughts and feelings,” he emphasised.

“To write a DRR story you don’t need to crack your head and want to do something miraculous to find an angle for your story” said Ntsukunyane, who highlighted that sometimes editors and station managers spike disaster stories because they are not entertaining. Ntsukunyane pointed out that the station managers and editors also need to be engaged in DRR initiatives because they are the gatekeepers and they can better guide the reporters on their stories to get them published.

He stressed, “We need to engage them so that they find it necessary to authorise DRR and environment stories.” The Disaster Management Authority (DMA) district manager, Tšepang Maama, said there’s a need to collaborate with the media and this collaboration between DMA, World Vision and the media is much needed because it is only through working together with the media that the information concerning disaster can be well disseminated.

“We need to focus together more on the pre-disaster so that when messages are disseminated people would know how to get prepared for the coming predicted disaster. We can only be able to effectively and timely respond to disasters if we are well prepared,” Maama said. Echoing Ntsukunyane’s concerns, World Vision Lesotho Advocacy and Justice for Children manager, ‘Maseisa Ntlama, said the issue of limited resources to respond positively to and quickly to emergencies is a challenge because weather forecast reports are not accurate and timely.

She said it is sad for people living in rural because no one gives them heads up about upcoming disasters so that they may get prepared. “Long ago people knew how to predict the weather just by looking at the skies then they would gather wood. But it has now become a challenge due to climate change and that is where we need to intervene by reducing underlying disaster risk factors,” Ntlama noted.

She further stated that indeed the media should be in the forefront to report the root causes of the disaster and not the symptoms. In his remarks, World Vision Lesotho National Director, James Chifwelu, said the highlight of the ECHO DRR project is on SDG 13. He noted that World Vision is about protecting livelihoods and helping people to make informed decisions.

Chifwelu said the World Vision is looking for many other ways to engage with the media in advocating for vulnerable people affected by climate change. Stating why the World Vision has partnered with the media, the DRR project manager, Mamello Tsekoa, noted that it is because the media has the coverage and the reach hence the partnership.

She said “media is an institution where capacities of its constituents must be strengthened continuously to respond to the communication and information needs of different institutions as well as address relevant development problems.” Tsekoa underlined that “Media informs and educate, you have the platform and people listen to radio everywhere, even in taxis. Even though sometimes we criticise you, fact of the matter is you have the platform and we need you.”

World Vision Lesotho began its operation in 1987 and is in eight districts with 14 Area Programmes (AP’s) where most of transformational development and advocacy initiatives take place. They are a child focused organisation that seeks to reach full potential of children families and their communities by tackling the root causes of poverty and injustices. It serves all people regardless of religion, ethnicity, race or gender.



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