Together with experts from the GTZ and the East African Business Council on HIV/AIDS (EABC), the DW Akademie has just conducted a three-week multi-media workshop for journalists from the East African Community.
30 years after HIV/AIDS was first identified, the virus remains a taboo in Africa and a stigma for those afflicted. Media coverage is often limited, partly because journalists often lack the expertise needed for reporting on the immunodeficiency virus.
Participants of the workshop came from Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya - countries where the virus is particularly widespread. "This workshop made me realize how HIV is handled at the workplace and how this corresponds to our young region’s economy," said Prince Nick Nyombi, a DW Akademie workshop participant. Educating about the virus is key to a responsible information policy, regardless of whether this applies to the way afflicted colleagues are treated at work or to overall virus prevention.
The journalists accompanied so-called "peer educators" on their field trips to the villages. Here, for example, they saw how families - together with their children and employers - are informed about the virus through films, talks and discussions. The journalists found that instead of reporting on HIV/AIDS-related problems, they could focus on successful, preventative and informative projects.
Because the effects of HIV/AIDS in this region are so far-reaching they fundamentally limit the countries' development opportunities. "Nowhere are the effects of HIV/AIDS as dramatic as in eastern and southern Africa," reports DW Akademie project manager Charles Achaye-Odong. The workshop's goal, he says, was to create a regional network for media professionals in EAC member states. And this has been achieved.
A blog devoted to the issues of HIV/AIDS documents the workshop's contents and results. The multi-media folders will be integrated into the websites of GTZ, DW Akademie and the East African Business Council on HIV/AIDS (EABC). And the participants' broadcasters will air all the radio and television reports produced during the workshop.
The guest of honor at the workshop's closing ceremony was Alloys Mutabingwa, Vice-General Secretary of the East African Community. He praised DW Akademie and GTZ for their commitment and for their support of the EAC integration process with the workshop. He also stressed the importance of continuing projects of this kind.