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

New Web Forum for Azeri Civil Society Groups

Local NGOs work on presentation, new media and getting the message out to a broader constituency.
By IWPR team in Azerbaijan
  • Trainer Zeynal Mammadli leads a session in Baku, December 2011. (Photo: IWPR)
    Trainer Zeynal Mammadli leads a session in Baku, December 2011. (Photo: IWPR)
  • Tahmina Tagizade teaches video production at a workshop in Mingachavir, November 2011. (Photo: IWPR)
    Tahmina Tagizade teaches video production at a workshop in Mingachavir, November 2011. (Photo: IWPR)
  • Launch of the civil society website, Baku, December 2011. (Photo: IWPR)
    Launch of the civil society website, Baku, December 2011. (Photo: IWPR)
  • IWPR workshop in Khachmaz, a northern mountainous region adjoining Dagestan in Russia, December 2012. (Photo: IWPR)
    IWPR workshop in Khachmaz, a northern mountainous region adjoining Dagestan in Russia, December 2012. (Photo: IWPR)

A new website for non-government groups around Azerbaijan will allow them to share experiences and coordinate their work more effectively.

The website, civil-forum.az, was launched by IWPR’s team in the capital Baku on December 2.

The site is a cornerstone of a new IWPR project called "Strengthening Azerbaijan's Civil Society”, supported by the US Department of State, which sets out to create stronger networks, leadership and lines of communication among civil society groups. The end result should be to make these NGOs more visible, more effective and thus more accessible to members of the public.

NGO activists are being trained as citizen journalists so that they can present their arguments and run campaigns in lively, user-friendly formats – video as well as print.

“The main objective of our project is to develop citizen journalism in Azerbaijan and ensure it is deployed to a professional standards,” Beka Bajelidze, IWPR regional director in the Caucasus, said. “This website creates an opportunity for regional journalists to put skills and knowledge into practice, and at the same time contribute to improved accountability and transparency.”

Around Azerbaijan, IWPR has set up a network of eight “citizen centres” that serve as a focal point for NGOs and. Initially the plan was to establish six regional centres in Ganja, Sumgait, Mingachavir, Zakatala, Sheki and Lenkoran, but when others heard about it, two more were added by popular demand in Khachmaz in the north, and Tartar district, a part of Karabakh under government control.

Samira Ahmedbeyli, who is coordinating the project, set out the main features of the new website – from sections highlighting multimedia content produced by regional NGOs to news of upcoming events and a package of training material.

The project envisages training sessions for local journalists and activists. So far three have been held, two in the capital Baku in October and December, one in Mingachevir in late November and a third in Khachmaz at the end of December. Trainees are taught how to report human reports issues, and how to use cameras and mobile phones to capture images and film.