Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Afghanistan: Feb/Mar '10

IWPR steps up media development activities in the west of the country. By Noorrahman Rahmani in Kabul
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IWPR is to open a media centre in western Afghanistan where journalists can work and receive training.

The centre, which will be opened shortly in Herat, will be available for activities such as news conferences, and journalists will receive guidance on filing stories, conducting interviews, and collecting material for stories from IWPR mentors.

The regional centre will also have a database of contacts for government and non-government agencies which will be available for journalists from the region.

IWPR's activities in Herat are funded by the Norwegian government.

Noorrahman Rahmani and Hafizullah Gardesh of IWPR visited Herat earlier this year to assess the need for a centre in Herat to bring together journalists in the western provinces which include Farah, Badghis and Herat itself.

IWPR's team from Kabul and its coordinator in Herat, Sadeq Behnam, met the head of the information and culture department of Herat, young Heratis, journalists’ associations and a group of journalists trained by IWPR in the region.

The IWPR representative found that the demand for more IWPR activities was very high. The journalists’ associations and IWPR trainees asked IWPR to build a network of journalists in western Afghanistan by establishing a media centre in Herat, as it has done in Mazar-e-Sharif for northern Afghanistan

Herat – which shares a long border with Iran and has a rich historical and cultural background – is the centre of the western economic zone of the country. This has made the province a focus of attention for some time.

A large media scene has emerged there since 2001, encouraging a considerable number of young people to study journalism. Local media include 11 radio stations, five television stations and more than 40 print outlets.

The centre will offer journalists access to free high-speed internet, computers and up-to-date software as well as serving as a hub for them to get together, exchange ideas and be mentored.

It will also encourage female journalists in the region, who find it hard to practice their profession because of the region’s conservative attitudes.

IWPR's country director for Afghanistan, Malaiz Daud, said the new centre would play an important role in promoting not only good journalism but also democratic values, "We hope the media centre will establish IWPR in the region and meet what is clearly a great demand for this kind of facility in Herat. It will provide a basis for further media development work by IWPR in western Afghanistan, bring the journalists of Herat and the adjacent provinces closer and serve as a platform for independent media. In that, we are grateful to our donors for making this possible."

For its first training programme in this part of the country, IWPR has selected a wide range of trainees from the journalistic community, including reporters from local and international radio stations, freelancers and journalism students.

Noorahman Rahmani is an IWPR member of staff.