by Joseph Ngwawi – SANF 05 No 103
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is streamlining the flow of information about the region and has set its sight on building internal capacities of the member states to effectively communicate developments within the regional bloc.
Buoyed by the recent approval of its Communication and Promotional Strategy by the SADC Integrated Committee of Ministers, the region has set for itself the daunting challenge of strengthening communication channels within and among member states and encouraging greater interaction between the public and private sector in communicating the region’s achievements.
According to a plan developed during a meeting of media experts from the region held in Swaziland from 17-18 November, public relations and media campaigns will have to be mounted and close collaboration maintained among the SADC national committees, media co-ordinators and media practitioners in member states.
One of the challenges is to build capacity of national media coordinators in each of the 14 member states. The current set-up revolves around a network of SADC national media coordinators whose role is to act as links between the SADC Secretariat and the media in the respective countries.
The media coordinators work closely with SADC national committees made up of representatives from the public and private sectors and civic organisations.
“The strategy is also aimed at improving intra and inter SADC communication with a view to ensuring a free flow of information to citizens and fostering partnerships with the corporate world in the profiling of SADC and its projects,” the experts said in a statement released at the end of the meeting.
The meeting also came up with an implementation plan in which the media coordinators, regional media houses and the private sector will be expected to play significant roles in enhancing the communication of SADC programmes and initiatives to communities in member countries.
The communication strategy also acknowledges the role played by other communicators in member states that are willing to facilitate access to SADC information.
The communication blueprint also proposes the development of a regional crisis management strategy.
The Swaziland meeting was convened to chart the way forward for a region whose many achievements are often overshadowed by challenges such as food insecurity and HIV and AIDS.
Represented at the Manzini workshop were SADC partners including the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre, the Southern African Broadcasting Association, the Media Institute of Southern Africa and the Southern African Editors’ Forum.