Throughout 2019, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) fought tirelessly to promote and defend freedom of expression, and to advance the quality of lives through professional journalism across West Africa. We fought against violence against journalists, defended citizens’ rights to protest, supported and inspired journalists to demand accountability, advanced digital rights and empowered citizens to actively participate in governance.
Our work helped save lives, enhanced public service delivery, empowered journalists to tell better stories and remain resilient and had governments become more transparent and accountable to the people.
In Burkina Faso, we offered support to journalists to do focused and critical reporting on the country’s healthcare delivery system. The reports highlighted challenges in the healthcare system related to broken down or non-existent basic equipment in a number of hospitals. The impact of great journalism was realized when these stories prompted government to take actions to finalise the construction of a hospital by 2020.
Other stories produced by journalists resulted in the prompt procurement of x-ray machines, brain scanners and other radiology equipment for the Yalgado Public Hospital in Ouagadougou.
Similarly, in Senegal, our work led Senegalese President, Macky Sall, to instruct for implementation of stricter road safety laws for the country, which has recorded 500 deaths every year. This followed a radio campaign we organized to shed light on the high incidence of road accidents.
On defending journalists, we offered a safe haven for journalists in danger and advocated for the release of journalists who have been detained arbitrarily. Together with the state security agencies, we developed strategies that promoted journalists’ safety and improved relations between the media and the security agencies in Guinea and during the elections in Nigeria.
In Ghana, we worked with journalists on public accountability. We supported a journalist to produce a major story on public procurement which led to the suspension of the Public Procurement Authority’s boss, Adjenim Boateng Adjei.
Throughout the sub-region, we empowered citizens by educating them on their rights to access to information. We monitored freedom of expression and promoted the fundamental human rights of citizens guaranteed by regional and international instruments.
With the knowledge of the significant threat that fake news poses, we convened stakeholders to brainstorm and develop strategies on mitigating the risks of misinformation on elections in Africa at the 2019 West Africa Media Excellence Conference and Awards (WAMECA). The event also rewarded and inspired journalists in the region who are producing compelling stories that are impacting societies.