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SADC calls on journalists to amplify appeals for regional humanitarian support

9 May, 2024
This post was broadcasted from MISA Regional.
“Governments in the region are constrained in their ability to support due to significant economic challenges, including public debt burdens and other social priorities such as the response to the cholera outbreaks, and as a result, the region will soon be launching a regional humanitarian appeal for support,” he said in a speech read on his behalf by the deputy executive secretary, Judith Kateera.

SADC executive secretary Elias Magosi urged journalists to amplify national and regional appeals for humanitarian support in the face of the El Nino drought, which has seen millions face food shortages in the region.

Addressing delegates at the World Press Freedom Day commemorations held in Gaborone, Botswana, at the weekend, he called on journalists to contribute to the debate and solutions for climate-proofing agriculture and mobilising resources.

“Governments in the region are constrained in their ability to support due to significant economic challenges, including public debt burdens and other social priorities such as the response to the cholera outbreaks, and as a result, the region will soon be
launching a regional humanitarian appeal for support,” he said in a speech read on his behalf by the deputy executive secretary, Judith Kateera.

“In this regard, journalists, as our catalysts for change, will be expected and encouraged to play a role in amplifying the voices for national and regional appeals for support, ensuring that the messages requesting for humanitarian support reach our various partners for support.”

The southern African region is probably in the throes of its worst drought in more than four decades.

The drought results from a prolonged dry spell, which has left crops and water sources parched. It has been fueled by the ongoing El Niño, which shifted rainfall patterns during the growing season.

Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe have already reached out for humanitarian support, as millions of people in those countries face food shortages.

“SADC will continue to count on your support to communicate the situation accurately because your work informs policy, shapes public opinion, and drives collective efforts toward a sustainable future,” Magosi said.

This year’s World Press Freedom Day commemorations were held under the theme: A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the Face of Environmental Crisis. The theme highlights the media’s crucial role in raising awareness of environmental issues and fostering sustainable development.

Botswana’s Assistant Minister for State President Boitumelo Gofhamodimo said the role of journalists was more critical if the world was to mitigate the effects of climate change.

“In the face of these challenges, the role of journalism and the media at large has never been more critical,” she said.

“The media serve as watchdogs of society, shining a light on environmental issues, exposing wrongdoing, and holding those in power accountable for their actions. They bridge the gap between scientific knowledge and public understanding, translating complex environmental issues into narratives that resonate with audiences worldwide.”

Gofhamodimo bemoaned the challenges that journalists face such as censorship, harassment, violence and imprisonment.

“Let us stand in solidarity with those who work tirelessly to uphold the principles of a free, pluralistic, diverse and independent media, even in the face of adversity,” she said.

“I am delighted that we have institutions such as MISA in our region of Southern Africa to advocate for and promote freedom of expression and access to information.”

The commemorations in Gaborone were attended by Nisha, the director of the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa, and top government officials from Botswana, Eswatini, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Civil society actors and stakeholders from across the region were also in attendance.

The annual commemorations were organised by MISA and UNESCO.

About MISA

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) was founded in 1992. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.

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