Reporting 2.0: New technologies and local media talent change how we monitor water and sanitation

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Reporting 2.0: New technologies and local media talent change how we monitor water and sanitation

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What is your idea? What makes it innovative? Why is it important?

Can local journalists equipped with smart phones help improve accountability and transparency in development aid? This pilot project uses journalism as a tool for independent reporting on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in Ghana.

Diarrhoea, a disease largely attributable to unsafe water and poor hygiene, contributes to the high child mortality rate in Ghana . An estimated 3.4 million school days of 5 to 14 year olds are lost to diarrhoea. One in 5 Ghanaians has to defecate in the open because they have no access to a toilet. Helping to improve this situation are over 50 local and international organizations active in the water and sanitation sector.

Local communities often don’t know what is happening in the development sector. The aim of the project is to engage local media talent in the monitoring and evaluation of water and sanitation projects in their area. Secondly, implementing agencies are increasingly required by their funders to show positive impact. However, few publish independent monitoring and evaluation reports. They may not have the resources to do so or they may be afraid of negative publicity. Rather, communication efforts mostly come from the project itself. Community journalists can fill the gap with independent [video] reports on water, sanitation and hygiene projects.

The project will support the local capacity of selected journalists to evaluate WASH using local and international expertise through trainings lead by:
• A local NGO in Ghana,
• IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre on monitoring and evaluation, and
• A media partner in the Netherlands active in Africa.

Replication will be enabled through the development of a detailed open community toolkit on planning, training, and communication strategy development..

What will be the impact of your idea?

A start-up media workshop will train 8 local journalists on reporting techniques and WASH issues. The reporters - equipped with smart phone, GPRS internet access and bluetooth keyboards - will publish their stories online on and a dedicated YouTube channel. A community toolkit/portal will be set up which allows commenting and sharing of materials. A joint project communication strategy will be formulated and regular press conferences will be organized for local media and sector organizations. Reports will be sent to local media: radio, newspapers and television. News compilations will be presented in local communities and media events.

This project introduces local journalists as fresh and independent voices in monitoring and evaluation. It will generate new methods and techniques to improve transparency and awareness in the WASH and development sectors.
Local and international video presentations, discussions and press conferences are used to bridge connectivity and language divides.
A community toolkit/portal documents project experiences and allows rich interaction from outside the project.

People: We are looking for ideas from people who can make them happen.

Nick Dickinson and Cor Dietvorst of IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre (Netherlands). IRC is an independent knowledge centre on WASH and integrated water resources management in the context of development cooperation. Nick has an MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management from Oxford University. He brings together his experiences in information and communication technology, capacity building, and the WASH sector and is channeling those into the innovative communications theme at IRC. Cor i s an information specialist and editor of Source Weekly and Source South Asia, part of IRC's news service. He is a member of IRC's thematic group on Transparency and Good Governance.
Ben White, head of Commercial Development at online media company Africa Interactive - Ben studied International Management in Boston before working in public relations, government, IT and media consulting. He has worked in New York, Amsterdam, parts of Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa

How much will it cost to launch your idea?

$ 320,000. Match funding to be raised through ongoing and planned projects of IRC.