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Supporting quality journalism to create demand for change

Mr Amosi Kalonge, Ward Executive Officer of Igamba Ward, Mbozi District, Mbeya Region, with Mbeya Highlands FM journalists Samuel Ndoni, Willick Simfukwe, Benny Mbilinyi, Safina Joel, Lusekelo Uswege. Photo: Amandine Oleffe

Ward Executive Officer of Igamba Ward, Mr. Amosi Kalonge with journalists from Mbeya Highlands FM stand in front of a sign reading Haki Maji, or Right to Water.

Knowing and understanding your rights is very important to ensuring that those rights are met. In our Key Partner Country, Tanzania, Irish Aid supports local media and press, through the Tanzania Media Fund, to investigate areas of public interest to increase accountability and help people access their rights.

When journalists at regional radio station Mbeya Highlands FM realised that many of the concerns of their listeners related to a lack of access to safe water and sanitation, they decided to act and investigate the situation. With a grant from Tanzania Media Fund, an organisation supported by Irish Aid to provide grants to the media in support of investigative journalism for public interest, a team of young and dedicated journalists travelled around three districts in the region to see the challenges for themselves and investigate the causes.

Speaking with the rural communities, the journalists realised that citizens’ knowledge of their right to water and the responsibilities of local government was limited. To better inform citizens and to raise awareness about the responsibilities of local government and the role that communities can play in holding their government accountable, the journalists broadcasted live shows featuring debates between community members and local authorities and sharing information from their investigations on local water plans and budgets. These live debates contributed to greater demand from citizens and greater response from local authorities. Water pumps were fixed, pipes were replaced, new wells were built and new governing boards for water were installed.

Mbeya Highlands FM believes that raising awareness on responsibilities and bringing together citizens and local government were the motivating factors in creating change and now plan to extend their live debate format throughout the Region.

Irish Aid has been supporting Tanzania Media Fund since 2008 to increase domestic accountability through its support to public interest and investigative journalism. This is done through provision of grants combined with training and mentoring.