COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING (AGM) OF WATER AND SANITATION MEDIA NETWORK HELD AT GUBABI ROAL HOTEL FROM 24TH-26TH FEBRUARY, 2008. PreambleThe first Annual General Meeting of Water and Sanitation Media Network (WATSAN Media Network) took place in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria from 24th-26th February, 2008, under the theme ‘The Media and Public Accountability in the Water and Sanitation Sector’. The AGM attracted 25 Journalists and Media Professionals reporting the Water and Sanitation sector for Print, Electronic and Online media organisations in Nigeria.
The meeting also featured project briefs and thematic presentations by various Stakeholders in the water sector.
A keynote address was delivered by Dr. Abdulmuminin, Director, Water Supply, Quality Control and Inspectorate, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources, (FMAWR), represented by Mr. Chris Ikelionwu, an Assistant Director; Mrs Ifeoma Charles-Monwuba, Head, Policy and Partnerships, WaterAid Nigeria spoke on ‘Right to Water’; Mohammed El-Fatih, Chief WASH, UNICEF represented by Bade Olokun spoke on UNICEF projects; Engineer Benson Ajisegiri, Coordinator of the National Urban Water Sector Reform Project Project Implementation Unit briefed participants on Water Sector Reform/Private Sector Participation in Water Services delivery; Mrs Tokunbo Ogbe, a Director in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resource informed participants on the planned activities in Nigeria for the International Year of Sanitation; and Mr. Bisi Agberemi of UNICEF spoke on Sanitation Options The AGM also featured Skills training sessions enabling participants become better analysts of the sector. Mr Paul Killebrew, a Sector Analyst with WaterAid Nigeria trained participants on Budget Tracking with emphasis on sectoral allocations to Water resources; Bankole Ebisemiju, Information and Communications officer of WATER Aid anchored a session on ‘The Journalist as an Advocate’; Leo Atakpu, National Co-ordinator of the Society for Water and Sanitation (NEWSAN) discussed on Water and Sanitation Networks; and Babatope Babalobi of Bread of Life Dev. Foundation trained participants on ‘Using New Media Technologies, especially Blogs to source and disseminate information’. Thereafter, the AGM accepted an annual General Report from its Interim Management Committee, ratified its draft constitution, renewed the mandate of the steering committee, and deliberated on various water and sanitation issues arriving at the following conclusions:
- The media has an invaluable role to play in creating public awareness about water and sanitation programmes/projects to increase transparency and accountability, and ensure community participation and ownership.
- The media should follow the money being spent by all agencies in the sector, by tracking and monitoring Public expenditures, in order to reduce corruption in the sector.
- All State Governments in the country are called upon to develop a Water Policy as a road map for water resources management.
- 2008 being the International Year of Sanitation, the media is called upon to publish stories, editorials, special reports, and commentaries on sanitation options, including Community led sanitation, hand washing with soap, and Ecosan.
- Government and Development agencies in the Water Sector should include a Media component in their programme implementation to allow for media monitoring.
- Media houses should train Journalists on Advocacy skills to enable them perform their constitutionally assigned watch dog role
- The media and Journalists should harness new media tools such as Web sites, Search Engines and Blogs to source and disseminate information.
- Government and Development agencies in the Water Sector should support media training on Watsan issues by supporting the participation in relevant local and international conferences
- The meeting appreciated the supportive role of WaterAid Nigeria to Water and Sanitation Media Network (WATSAN Mnet) since its inauguration in October 2006; and encourages other stakeholders in the Public and Private sector to support the activities and programmes of the WATSAN Media Network.
Babatope Babalobi Regina Eche-Fali Kolade Omoniyi
For: Water and Sanitation Media Network
March 1, 2008