Plan Sierra Leone, in collaboration with Thomson Foundation, yesterday commenced a week-long training for journalists from: Sierra Leone, Ghana, Liberia and Cameroon on “Disaster Risk Reduction” at the Family Kingdom.
Speaking at an opening ceremony, the Country Director for Plan Sierra Leone, Fadimata Alinchar stated that disaster can not be tagged to particular communities, countries or regions but that it is being shared globally.
She said, ‘journalists have the skills to communicate, engage and convince people about the effect of disaster and the need to prevent it. The vision of Plan, she said is worldwide and it ensures that, children fulfill their potential and get their rights and dignity
The issues of disaster, she went on will be heard and understood and acted upon by the authorities based on the way journalists report on it.
Speaking on behalf of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, Abdul Rahman Swarray, vice president for the association advised that, the profession of journalism be taken seriously as it gives confidence in sharing ideas.
Sierra Leone, he said has not being faced with a serious crisis and that, he was hopeful the workshop will prepare the minds of journalists on how to manage information available on disaster. ‘At SLAJ level, we share the vision and focus of Plan in ensuring journalists are capacitated with values of ethical reporting’, Swarray said.
John Rogers from the Disaster Management Department at the Office National Security (ONS) said, efforts are being made to allow an effective department and that, a national disaster management policy has been developed and validated nationwide by all stakeholders. In disaster related issues, Rogers said, journalists should be around the disaster management team so that information around disaster could be given them before going out to the public.
Statement was also made by Abdul Rashid from Search For Common Ground who said, his organization was concerned at looking at the way the world looks at conflict issued from an adversarial approach to a cooperative one and that, they have been working in partnership with other organizations in the promotion of children issues.
Declaring the training open on behalf of the Information Minister, Dan Parkinson Jr information Officer at the ministry said, the meeting was crucial for journalists and commended Plan for undertaken such an effort.
Journalists, he said, should play a role in promoting child welfare issues as they are the most important people in our society. He expressed concern that, over the year, journalists have over the years been concentrating on political issued rather than on social issues and admonished all to begin looking at such issues.
The training is aimed at looking at the risk in disaster as it relates to child right, elements of disaster and the role of journalists in the prevention of disaster, among others.