BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTE IN OUAGADOUGOU
|Participants at the 2011 workshop in Conakry, Guinea|
The Global Water Partnership, West Africa (GWP-WA ) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN-PACO), will today begin a five-day capacity building workshop for 30 selected journalists from the sub-region in the Burkina Faso capital of Ouagadougou.
It will be under the theme “Mining and the protection of the environment and natural resources in West Africa" and will attract a dozen parliamentarians from 10 countries of West Africa, as well as half dozen experts in the fields of mining, environment and environmental legislation, administration officials and sub-regional institutions as both resource persons and participants.
The sixth in the series of annual sub-regional workshops for journalists which is taking place from October 1, 2012 to October 5, 2012, the organisers say, aims at affording the media persons an opportunity to interact with specialists in environmental protection, mine operators, state specialised services.
It will also enable them undertake a field visit to a mining site - either abandoned or in operation, to measure the full range of effects, but also the measures taken by the different actors for protection and/or minimising the effects of mining.
According to GWP-WA and IUCN-PACO, the workshop will also enable the journalists to have discussions with parliamentarians on issues around the question of mining in relation to water and the environment; inform and educate the media on this environmental problem in the West African context, which may be exacerbated due to climate change and bring the journalists to be at the forefront of the debate on mining, to allow them relay the environmental concerns to policy makers and their citizenry.
At the end of the workshop, the organisers say they expect the journalists and parliamentarians to have a better understanding of the relationship between the environment and mining, while they enjoy a strengthened and sustained relationship through their networking.
Also, apart from articles that will be produced by the journalists attending the workshop for their newspapers, radio, TV and Internet, a brochure collecting press cuttings will be produced at the end of the workshop, as well as a disclosure and awareness magazine in both soft and hard versions, for the attention of actors on the theme of the workshop, in collaboration with the journalists present at the workshop.
It is also envisaged that through the workshop the synergy between the GWP-WA and IUCN-PACO collaboration will be strengthened.
Participants at the workshop will engage in two days of immersion in the general concerns, undertake a one day site visit, and use two days to write articles and produce radio magazines.
Countries participating in the workshop include Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria, Togo, Gambia, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea and Senegal.
Speaking to the choice of the theme for this year’s workshop, the organisers said while the West African basement is richly endowed with significant mineral resources such as gold, uranium, bauxite, iron, phosphate, diamonds and manganese, their conditions of extraction and processing, in most cases, do not follow international standards for the protection of the environment.
“And the presence of mining sites undoubtedly impact natural resources and landscapes. In addition, security issues related to public health and landslides are recurrent,” they stated in a reference material for the workshop.
The last regional workshop was held in Conakry, Guinea in May 2011 under the theme; “Sharing strategies for the sustainable management of forest resources and adaptation to climate change.”