Local Science News Water and Environment

Journalists from Nile Basin Countries Enhance Science Communication Skills for Accurate Reporting on the Nile River

BY ALEX BALUKU

Kirehe District, Rwanda – The 8th Nile Journalists Media Training, organized by the Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program (NELSAP) under the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), concluded on June 17th, 2023.

The week-long training, held at East Gate in Kirehe District, aimed to equip journalists from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with the necessary skills to translate scientific and technical messages about the Nile River into accurate news in a politicized environment.

Led by Eugene Anangwe, a strategic Communication and Media Expert with over 15 years of experience, the training focused on several key objectives.

Participants deepened their understanding of the Nile cooperation process, learned effective techniques for handling interviews with scientists and politicians on Nile issues, and explored more impactful reporting on hydro diplomacy.

Additionally, the training aimed to raise awareness of the Nile Media Awards and increase media coverage of NBI projects. Participants also received updates on the status of the Comprehensive Framework Agreement.

Journalists from the Nile Basin countries shared their experiences and challenges during presentations. They highlighted the need to adequately inform citizens about the benefits of transboundary cooperation within the Nile Basin.

They also noted the limited coverage of NBI projects in mainstream media and the perception that media narratives on the Nile River Basin often follow a nationalistic bias, leading to misinformation and the failure to correctly represent facts.

During the training, the journalists delved into key terms, concepts, and jargon related to the Nile River. They explored the significance of the White Nile and Blue Nile as the main tributaries, the fertile region where the Nile drains into the Mediterranean Sea, and the challenges posed by issues such as eutrophication, silt, and flooding.

To enhance their science communication skills, the participants engaged in a mock interview exercise. They interviewed officials on various topics related to the Nile River, focusing on simplifying scientific information and making it relatable to a broader audience.

Through effective storytelling and engagement techniques, they aimed to bridge the gap between complex scientific concepts and everyday experiences.

Collaborative journalism was also emphasized during the training. Journalists were encouraged to work together across borders and news organizations to investigate and report on issues of significance in the Nile region. By pooling their knowledge, research, and data, they can provide more comprehensive and impactful coverage, overcoming limitations in accessing certain areas or information.

Furthermore, the training addressed the importance of navigating the political dimensions of reporting on the Nile River. Journalists learned to understand political dynamics, analyze biases and agendas, communicate with policymakers, and engage with diverse perspectives while maintaining scientific objectivity and ethical considerations.

The 8th Nile Journalists Media Training concluded with journalists leaving equipped with enhanced science communication skills and a commitment to providing accurate and balanced reporting on the Nile River.

Their strengthened capacity to translate complex scientific information into accessible news stories is expected to contribute to increased public awareness and understanding of the Nile Basin’s significance and challenges.

As the Nile Basin countries continue to collaborate and work towards sustainable management of the river’s water and energy resources, the role of journalists in delivering accurate and unbiased information remains crucial in promoting dialogue, cooperation, and informed decision-making within the region.

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