IWMF receives grant for African Media project

By Charles Njeru

The International Women’s Media Foundation announced recently that it has received a $2।5 million grant from the Howard GBuffett Foundation to develop a project to work with news media organizations in Africa to enhance their coverage of agriculture, rural development and wome.

The four-year project will include an assessment of current news media coverage of agriculture, rural development and gender-related issues in Africa

The goals of the project are to increase and enhance reporting on agriculture and rural development, incorporate women’s roles in the coverage of agriculture and rural economics into reporting on those topics, and create more gender equality in newsrooms. “Agriculture plays a crucial role in African economies.

Poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition remain major challenges in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Jane Ransom, IWMF executive director.

“Each of these issues is closely tied to agriculture, where there is a serious crisis in production. The media have a crucial role to play by reporting on the crisis and by amplifying their voices in the ongoing dialogue on agriculture, rural development and women."

“Without transparency, it is nearly impossible to solve many of the challenges that face vulnerable populations in less-developed countries. Media that are free to operate and free to report can play a significant role in addressing issues that effect food insecurity, conflict and gender equality,” said Howard G. Buffett, president of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

“We think this project can help advance better governance while helping populations gain a stronger foothold in addressing their own problems.” The IWMF recently completed a pilot project that enhanced the coverage of HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria in Africa. The IWMF conducted the project, called Maisha Yetu (“Our Lives” in Swahili), from 2003-2007 with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Working with six media organizations in three countries – Botswana, Kenya and Senegal – the project significantly increased the quality and quantity of news articles and broadcast stories on these health topics. The IWMF plans to use a similar model in developing the project on agriculture, rural development and women.

The International Women’s Media Foundation was launched in 1990 with a mission to strengthen the role of women in the news media worldwide. The IWMF network includes women and men in the media in more than 130 countries worldwide.

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation was established in 1999 with a mission to improve the standard of living and quality of life for the world’s most poor, impoverished and marginalized populations.

One of the foundation’s highest priorities is to develop sustainable agricultural resource management for small-scale and subsistence farmers, especially women.

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