Sierra Leone’s economic development journalists get organised

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 May 2014

ato brown1World Bank’s Country Manager in Freetown – Francis Ato Brown, yesterday launched the country’s first Development and Economic Journalists Association-Sierra Leone (DEJA-SL).

This is the first ever development focused media association representing both print and electronic media, and from across all regions in the country. The theme of the launching event was: ‘Development Communication to Promote Social Accountability and Maximize Results for the People’.

Francis Ato Brown said that:”The World Bank believes in the integration of development communication in projects, based on a clear understanding of indigenous realities; because as a powerful tool, development communication strives to change behavior and improve the chances of success of a development project. The role of the media in all of this cannot be overemphasized, you are very very crucial because you have the vehicle to reach out to the people with the click of a button”.

But, he cautions;  “This requires a high degree of professionalism in your engagement in the monitoring and evaluation of such projects – from design – through implementation. Your analytical and professional reportage of the challenges and impacts will in no small way enhance, or as you put it, maximize the results for the people”.

Hosted at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, the event attracted the Country Representatives for the Food and Agricultural Organization, African Development Bank, representatives from the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, the Independent Media Commission, development experts, university lecturers in media studies, media practitioners and civil society organizations.

Addax biofuelsThis is the World Bank Country Manager’s keynote speech:

One of my first tasks I perform every morning is to scan, well, actually, I read through the papers. So I have always wanted to ask you this question: Is it that in-depth economic analysis or reporting does not bring you as much revenue as the other news?

I ask this because, reading local newspapers or listening to the radio, one will easily notice that what you call development and economic reporting is not given sufficient attention. Actually some sections of the media do, to some extent, but depth and consistency are the elements that need attention.

Clearly, you have taken stock of the media landscape, identified the gap and decided to fill it. So I am happy that some of you have also noticed this gaping need and decided to work towards addressing it. This is self-evaluation per excellence!

Ladies and gentlemen, you have chosen a topic that goes to the heart of our work as development partners. But also, I am sure, this bears relevance to the government’s performance and result posture.

‘Development Communication to Promote Social Accountability and Maximize Results for the People’, articulates your government’s open partnership agenda and its Agenda for Prosperity.

Everybody, and particularly you the media should pay closer attention on development projects to ensure achievement of the desired results.

Back in 1972 when Nora Quebral, pioneered the concept of development communication in Asia she said development communication “is both an art and a science, which should be linked to the society’s planned transformation, from a state of poverty to a dynamic state of socio-economic growth that makes for greater equality and the larger unfolding of individual potentials”.

This means development planning and implementation, should give more adequate consideration to human behavioral factors in the design of development projects and their objectives.

mobile phones in AfricaEssentially, development communication should be participatory because, “participation translates into individuals being active in development programmes and processes; they contribute ideas, take initiative and articulate their needs and their problems; and while asserting their autonomy they identify problems demand and get solutions. That’s social accountability. This way, public programmes and policies become real, meaningful and sustainable. So it is not just information dissemination, education, or awareness-raising”.

This is why the World Bank believes in the “integration of development communication in projects, based on a clear understanding of indigenous realities”; because as a powerful tool, development communication strives to change behaviour and improve the chances of success of a development project.

The role of the media in all of this cannot be over emphasised, you are very very crucial because you have the vehicle to reach out to the people with the click of a button.

But this requires a high degree of professionalism in your engagement in the monitoring and evaluation of such projects – from design through implementation.

Your analytical and professional reportage of the challenges and impacts will in no small way enhance, or as you put, maximize the results for the people.

The government has put in structures such as OGI, OGP, the Access to Information Law and we in the development community are always ready to collaborate with all stakeholders in the common objective of serving the needs of your country.

Freetown market women protest - 3 Jan 2013 - politicoAt the World Bank Group, we have an information disclosure policy and we are implementing a Global Partnership for Social Accountability. At the Country Office level, in close partnership with the government, we are scaling up our operational communication drive to give more visibility to the projects with a view to engender public ownership and participation.

The ultimate outcome of such endeavour is to promote transparency, accountability and the attainment of results, so aptly captured by your topic.

To achieve your goals, you also have to look at the broader socio-economic dynamics in the country, and I can assure you, it is not going to be easy, nothing is easy in life.

Therefore even though every one of us here has individual experiences that differ in kind and in degree from those of others, I believe that we can learn from one another’s experiences – something that can help us cope with the challenges between us and our goals.

The experiences I want to share with you today are based on four qualities as follows:

 Patience and courage

 Clear vision and determination

 Professionalism and self- motivation

 Love your country

I would not bother to expound on these, but if each of the above qualities should be the binding guidance in your daily work, each one of them feeding into the others, the outcome will be dramatic.

salone poverty3You may wonder why I put “Love your country” last in the list. The reason is that I want it to be seen as the crowning quality.

I believe that the other qualities are gifts from God, but the last one you have to nurture and practise. Having a clear vision of your goals provides the courage; the unflagging determination and the motivation to keep pursuing it is anchored on patience.

As we all know, motivation is mainly of two types, namely, intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is the drive to accomplish something because the accomplishment itself is its own reward. Conversely, extrinsic or external motivation is a drive for external satisfaction, such as an object, promotion, or success. In all of this, always remember to put your country first.

There is a quality which I have reserved for the very last. That quality is self-discipline. You must discipline yourself to make certain sacrifices and trade-offs that are necessary to free up time and energy to perform required tasks, from preparing for work to doing all kinds of investigations and the research required to achieve excellence.

You will discover that some people will give you clear regular information, such as producing summaries of some particular documents of your interest and sparing time to grant you interviews. Others may not be so generous, for your own good, never be hostile to anyone.

You should also cultivate team-working skills and discipline; otherwise you will be shunned by others when you need them most especially at a time you are working on a very important story.

All told, the above problems may make your journalistic work much harder than it would have been. I believe that at least some of you are going through this experience as I speak.

My advice to you is, “SEARCH FOR THE HERO INSIDE YOURSELF”. Dig deep into your innermost self and draw upon the resources buried there like alluvial gold and diamonds – you know, those precious deposits that are found in streams, which are all mixed with mud and sand and have to be washed for their essence to show.

With a healthy mix of clear vision, courage, strong motivation, patience and, for those of you who are believers, an unflagging faith in your maker, you will go very far.

To conclude, you are now on the threshold of the last stretch of the journey you began two years ago; a journey which others had started but did not complete.

Whether you get to the end, and what kind of end you get to, depends to a large extent on yourself and only marginally on others. You must therefore be prepared to accept the responsibility for your choices, decisions and actions.

 

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