Thomson Reuters Foundation and IFAD deliver ‘Reporting on Food Security and Rural Development’ training for journalists in East Africa

by Arinaitwe Hedwig - Freelance Journalist, Uganda
Friday, 12 August 2022 13:10 GMT

REUTERS/Jackson Njehia

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From 16 May – 19 May 2022, the Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF) – in partnership with The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) – held an online ‘Reporting on Food Security and Rural Development’ training for journalists based in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Against the backdrop of rising prices, the economic fallout of COVID-19 and global supply problems, the course focused on building expertise in reporting on food security, food productions and climate change. The programme also examined how small-scale agriculture can respond to the growing demand for food, and the need to support rural transformation.

Below is a reflection from one of the participants following their completion of the programme:

By Arinaitwe Hedwig - Freelance Journalist, Uganda

It is unfortunate how development journalists are often not given enough credit, considering their work can lead to tangible solutions and impact. As a development journalist, my role is to report on some of the most pressing issues of our time – including climate change, food security and environmental crime – and source stories within these areas that spark debate, showcase adaptive solutions and generate positive change.

As a journalist reporting on these critical beats, there is a need to accumulate specialist knowledge on each topic, as well as understand the human impact of these issues.

While it’s important to stay up-to-date with global events, it’s also essential to know how to break down complicated theories into digestible information for readers - otherwise the impact of your journalism may not be fully realised.

Because of this, journalists are often on the lookout for programmes that provide opportunities to learn. This is what motivated me to participate in a ‘Reporting on Food Security and Rural Development’ training, hosted by TRF in partnership with IFAD.

I was eager to strengthen my skills around reporting on food security, given that it is one of the major problems affecting Uganda at the moment. I also wanted to enhance my knowledge about the interconnections between food security, gender and climate change, and learn how to produce multimedia stories on these issues to try and catalyse change in my country.

What made the TRF and IFAD programme exceptional was how the training was learner-centered; this allowed you to share your existing knowledge, define what you wanted to learn, and then later recap your key takeaways. This method of training completely met my goals, especially because the course trainers Camila Reed – former Global Editor of Commodities & Energy at Reuters TV – and Sammy Awami – award-winning journalist and trainer – were very open to learning themselves. They also incorporated a one-on-one mentoring consultation, which meant no question was left unanswered.

Two months after completing the training, I have published a multimedia feature on how climbing beans are being used to combat food insecurity through feeding thousands of households in the Ugandan districts of Kigezi and Kabale. With food security a growing global concern, I hope that my journalism will inspire other communities and countries to take similar action.

Presenting viewpoints and solutions that have the potential to change the lives of people all over the world is what makes development journalism so rewarding. These training opportunities build us to become the best at this, which the world cannot do without.

This training was the first of five courses focused on ‘Reporting on Rural Development’, hosted by TRF in partnership with IFAD. Click here to find out about upcoming training opportunities for journalists.