Afghanistan: Jan ‘09

Training sessions boost capacity of journalists from provinces that tend to be overlooked by the Kabul media.

Afghanistan: Jan ‘09

Training sessions boost capacity of journalists from provinces that tend to be overlooked by the Kabul media.

Wednesday, 18 February, 2009

With the holidays behind us, the Kabul office entered the New Year with a packed schedule.

The first two weeks in January were taken up with training. Journalists from Logar, Ghanzi, and Kabul attended the first session, January 11-15, and journalists from Kapisa, Parwan and Kabul came to the second training, January 18-22.

Many of the trainees had had little or no formal training, and were eager to learn more about the rules of their profession. The success of the training can be judged by the results: out of approximately 45 trainees, 18 proposed stories within the first week after they finished training. The enthusiasm of these reporters will help IWPR to get information from an area of Afghanistan that has received relatively little attention.

Logar and Ghazni are considered unstable provinces, and Parwan, just 40 kilometres from Kabul, is usually overlooked by journalists focused on the capital or on neighbouring Panjshir.

More importantly, these training sessions are helping the journalists of those provinces to increase their professional capacity, as well as giving them an outlet for reporting on their regions.

In addition to workshops, IWPR Afghanistan was busy with reporting. The inauguration of Barack Obama was almost as major an event in Kabul as it was in Washington, and with good reason: the decisions made by the new president will have a direct impact on Afghanistan.

IWPR conducted a mini-poll, asking reporters in five regions to ask people on the street what message they would like to send Obama.

The overwhelming majority spoke with one voice: please stop the killing. Afghans, distrustful of their own government and disappointed in the international community, just want an end to their long suffering.

Veteran reporter Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi filed an extraordinary report Afghanistan Tries to Hide Its Troubled Past, which documented the story of the mass graves in Dasht-e-Laili, a desert north of Mazar-e-Sharif, where thousands of victims from Afghanistan’s decades of conflict were unceremoniously buried. Now the graves are being cleared, as perpetrators rush to hide the evidence of their crimes.

Towards the end of the month, IWPR programme manager Abaceen Nasimi and myself headed to Herat to inaugurate IWPR’s training and reporting project for the western regions of the country.

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