Our goals are: (1) To strengthen independent media and freedom of information. Particularly, enhances press freedom, journalistic safety and self-regulation; improve journalists and CSO’s awareness and networking and foster active citizens’ demand for information in Liberia and the Mano River Basin region. (2). To run media campaigns to educate community and generate public demand, place health and other development issues high on public agenda, and effectively reach the influential group of policy-makers, elected representatives, professionals, political and religious leaders, power brokers and interest groups to act in support of health and sustainable development issues in Liberia and the Mano River Basin.
Liberia and the Mano River Basin region suffer critical dual media-related problems. First, the fundamental right to seek and disseminate information through an independent press is under attack. Part of this assault comes from unexpected sources. Elected officials that should be steadfast defenders of press freedom are making explicit efforts to silence critical media voices and strengthen outlets that broadcast favorable advertisement. The erosion of press freedom in the region is both a symptom of and a contributor to the breakdown of other democratic institutions and principles, a fact that makes it especially alarming.
Second, a lack of awareness and knowledge about development proprieties amongst decision-makers and local communities. For example, more national development resources and international aid funds are often been spent to improve the supply-side (build infrastructures, train teachers, establish farms, etc.), which are necessary. Nevertheless, evidence from many communities across the region shows that these investments are often done at the expense of something equally important…creating demand for these services so that people use and benefit from them.
Our media for development program is working:
- To strengthen independent media and freedom of information.
- To raise awareness about how to identify potential development challenges such as dangerous illnesses, environmental degradation, human trafficking, and what to do to dress them or prevent catastrophe before it occurs.
- To enhance press freedom, journalistic safety, and self-regulation; improve journalists’ and CSO’s awareness and networking and foster active citizens’ demand for information.
- To runs media campaigns to facilitate information exchange and cultural awareness.
- To break down cultural barriers and inhabiting mindsets that keep people in poverty and prevent them from seeking treatment for curable diseases.
- To persuade vulnerable populations to make use of available local resources.
- To mobilize decision-makers to recognize the value of natural recourse and prevent loss and degradation.
Currently, we are piloting several media campaigns in Liberia at the same time generating evidence of impact using evaluations. We are working to scale up the most effective campaigns to reach local communities across the region. Our focus areas include environment, climate change, forest, nutrition, human trafficking and child slavery, family farming and road safety.
What distinguishes VOSIEDA from others?
Most poverty eradication programs in West Africa often focus surely on the “supply side” of interventions: e.g. conducting training, building infrastructures or supply food and equipment in local communities. Unlike traditional NGO programs, VOSIEDA use combination of approaches and works on the critical but much-neglected “demand side,” disseminating basic yet crucial information and encouraging communities take advantage of services and local resources already available to them.
For example, the value of critical ecosystems is still not fully recognized by decision makers, and they continue to be lost and degraded in Liberia and the MRU. On the hand, more than 15,000 children die each day in the particularly in Africa, due to conditions associated with extreme poverty. Effective media outreach campaigns have been proven to save one in five of these lives–that’s roughly 3,000 children saved each day through effective media interventions. In like manner, effective media campaigns would make stakeholder aware of the indirect services that ecosystems provide and that these indirect services can now be quantified, thereby reversing these degradation.
We broadcast spots several times per day, broadcast in local languages and work with community radio stations with large audiences. Feed formative research into creatives, use drama and other innovations to tackle barriers to change, test all materials before and afterwards.