The European Union Non-State Actors (EU-NSA) project was introduced in Western Africa in 2016. It is being implemented in Ghana, Liberia and Ivory Coast. Volunteers To Support International Efforts In Developing Africa (VOSIEDA) is implementing the Liberian component. The purpose of the project is to “Strengthen the capacity of non-state actors in improving FLEGT-VPA and REDD+ processes in Western Africa”.
The project is a follow up measures to the Volunteer Partnership Agreement (VPA) signed between Liberia and the European Union. VPA is a legally binding trade agreement between the EU and timber-exporting countries outside the EU, which aims to ensure that all timbers and timber products destined for the EU market from a partner country comply with the laws of that country.
To ensure this initiative works well, the EU-NSA Project was launched for the purpose of enhancing the capacity of Western African non-state actors (NSAs) to monitor, advocate and engage with state actors (SAs) in FLEGT-VPA and REDD+ processes. This knowledge is envisaged to help NSAs to report on illegal logging and noncompliance to applicable forest laws and regulations by logging companies, all gear towards ensuring communities benefit from forest resources.
During the first and second years of project implementation, we realized that the media plays pivotal role in meeting the outcomes of the project. One of such media engagements is the radio advocacy program (Forest Hour) currently being ran by OK FM (a local radio station) under the sponsorship of the EU-NSA Project. Since the launch of the radio program in April of this year, the project has recorded more than eleven critical forest issues flagged by both the guests and callers from various forest communities across the country and media institutions that have developed courage in reporting on forest issues. In so far as the project is concern, the radio program (media) is the first timely and robust whistleblower platform for information dissemination from forest communities.
This has exposed the need to include the media in our capacity building program under the theme: “Strengthening Media Advocacy In Independent Forest Monitoring”. The training is expected to bring together over 18 electronics and print media practicing journalists from Monrovia and project affect counties.
The training which runs from July 12-13, focuses on the role of the media in independent forest monitoring. Andrew Y.Y. Zeleman of the National Union of Community Forestry Development Committee (NUCFDC) and Roland Harris of the Civil Society Independent Forest Monitors (CS-IFM) will both serve as facilitators for the training.
The selected media practitioners will receive training in the following areas: “definition of key forest terminologies, hierarchy of laws supporting community benefits from Liberia forest natural resources, division of Liberia forest sector and category of community benefits from forest resources and benefit sharing, dispute resolution/noncompliance mechanisms. Other areas to receive training in are: civil society and Liberia VPA with European Union and Civil Society Independent Forest Monitors’ experience and monitoring protocols among others’. It is expected that after the training, the media will join other advocacy groups to strengthen forest governance through their topnotch reportage.
The training is also expected to arm the media on how to assess and use factual and reliable information from the forests.
At the end of the training, participants will be organized into a media advocacy group under the project to support the overarching goal of the project by reporting more on trending forest issues in the country.