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

Afghanistan: IWPR Programme Bears Fruit

New swathe of investigations produced into crucial local issues.

A fresh round of IWPR training workshops has resulted in the production of some campaigning investigative work.

More than 50 Afghan journalists and local officials from around the country took part in the most recent sessions, part of a new project supporting investigative journalism in local media.

Amongst the stories produced as a result of these workshops were reports from Parwan on the appropriation of land set aside for teachers’ accomodation and marble smuggling in Helmand province. Other articles included a report on soaring tourism to historical sites in Bamiyan province and on the success of the pine nut crop in Khost, Paktia and Paktika.

(See Afghanistan: Teacher’s Land SeizedSmugglers Exploit Afghan Marble Mine,Tourism Soars at Historic Afghan Site and Could Afghan Pine Nuts Be Seeds of Change?).

Workshops held in the eastern provinces of Nangarhar, Laghman, Kunar, and Nuristan provinces were attended by 34 male and female reporters in December 2017, while around 40 journalists attended IWPR courses held in November 2017 in the southern Afghan regions of Kandahar, Helmand, Zabul and Uruzgan.

Bismillah Pashtunmal, a reporter for Pajhwok News in Zabul province, said, “In a situation where insecurity threatens the southern zone more than ever and programmes for reporters have been cut over several years, the IWPR workshop was of paramount importance for our reporters.

“The topics covered were just what we needed and I believe that what we learned in this workshop can help solve some of our daily problems.”

Mujibullah Shabir, a reporter for Mundigak Weekly in Kandahar, also said that the trainings had provided essential practical skills.

“Before this, we didn’t know how to uncover or prove corruption and other wrongdoing in government departments… but now we can organise critical reports and interviews.”

Fazal-Bari Baryalai, director of Kandahar’s department of information and culture, said that the trainings would improve the local media landscape.

In western Afghanistan, another IWPR workshop was held in Herat for more than 20 journalists from the provinces of Balkh, Samangan, Jowzjan, Badakhshan, Faryab, Saripul, Takhar and Baghlan.

“Although I have been working as a reporter for three years at a local radio called Ghazal in Jowzjan province, here for the first time I learned that investigative journalism is one of the ways to fight against corruption,” said one participant, Alina Rasa.

Diana Farzan, a reporter for Pagah weekly, said that she had learnt skills during the three-day workshop that had been entirely absent from her four-year university degree in journalism.

“This workshop taught us how a hypothesis is chosen to prepare an investigative report, how a work plan is made to support this and then how a reporter can pursue the investigation and deal with challenges and problems.”

Awrang Samim, director of Nangarhar’s department of information and culture, said that IWPR had remained a constant and positive force in his country, despite diminishing international interest in Afghanistan.

 “The help and cooperation of large international donors in the capacity-building of the media has diminished compared to the first years of the current government,” he said. “As IWPR has been working for so many years in Afghanistan training Afghan media and journalists, their assistance is extremely valuable and especially appreciated.”

This report was produced under IWPR’s Supporting Investigative Reporting in Local Media and Strengthening Civil Society across Afghanistan initiative, funded by the British Embassy Kabul.

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