Workshop in Naushehro Feroze for Journalists on Media and Local Governance
January 6 to 8, 2007
Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), with support from the European Union (EU), organized a three-day training workshop on “Media and Local Governance” for journalists in Naushehro Feroze from January 6 to January 8, 2007.
The objectives of the workshop were:
1.To develop the capacity of journalists in covering local government institutions.
2.To develop the skills of the local media for resolving local issues through participation in the non-elected bodies working under the local government system.
The workshop was conducted for twenty-three participants, out of which there were eight female participants.
The workshop was facilitated by Muqtida Mansoor, Editorial Coordinator, Pakistan Press Foundation.
Taluka Naib Nazim, Naushehro Feroze, Ghulam Hussain Mastoi, was the chief guest of the inaugural session and District Information Officer Muhammad Moosa was invited to speak on the occasion.
The workshop commenced with the opening remarks by Ghulam Hussain Mastoi. He declared that the Asian Development Bank (ADP) has approved a loan of Rs.800 million to make Naushehro Feroze a model town.
The project would include construction of roads, disposal of sewerage, provision of potable water, construction of bus stands, and providing education and health facilities to citizens including those living in slum areas.
The project, it was stated, would be initiated this year which would provide relief to the citizens. As resources of the Taluka Municipal Administration (TMA) were limited, and they have therefore been unable to tend to problems of the people immediately. Providing basic facilities to citizens living in the limits of TMA was their responsibility but they lacked funds.
The next phase of the workshop was conducted by Muqtida Mansoor who briefed the participants on the role of the Community Citizens’ Boards in local governments. He said people were deprived of knowledge on Civics and their right to access information on rules and regulations.
He praised the Community Citizens Board’s (CCB) efforts to bridge the communication gap between the local government and people. Mutual participation in the uplift projects was encouraged and where the locals were required to generate 20 percent funds of their proposed projects, the remaining 80 percent were to be provided by the government.
He said a CCB could be established at any town, district, Taluka, union council and community level in accordance with the rules of the local government, and had to be registered in districts.
Elected representatives, local councilors and assembly members were not legible to be members or office-bearers of these boards. A government servant could be their member but not office-bearer.
For registration of CCBs with district governments, the registration forms could be obtained from the department of community development, district social welfare or office of the district nazim. Journalists could also form CCBs for projects of their press clubs and professional development.
EDO Community Development, Sikander Ali Khushik said people of Naushahro Feroze are literate and politically aware. He explained how the process of uplift sche
mes took place. The Taluka and district nazims were required to take approval of funds through the assembly, after which the funds could be released in installments. Out of the 126 schemes of CCBs that were to be submitted in the district, a majority of them could be rejected due to incomplete documentation.
For the successful upliftment of schemes, it is essential for residents supervise them along with the CCBs of their areas. For this reason, a separate information sector for CCBs had been opened.
The CCB office-bearers could deposit the initial installment as stated in the contract, and later installments could be issued after the approval by government. On request of the CCB, advance installment of funds could be released according to approved schedule within 30 days.
The CCB projects are supervised by the monitoring committee as per ordinance. Any official or institute could also supervise CCB projects under notification of the government. The audit of district-funded projects had to comply with rules of the Auditor General of Pakistan, while the Local Fund Department could audit CCB projects funded by Tehsil, municipal or union council administration. The district government approves CCB schemes without political discrimination.
Taluka Nazim Muneer Ahmed Mangnejo said the TMA had no power to levy new taxes because of their limited budget. Due to the rapid increase in population in the towns and number of slum areas, problems such as lack of proper manpower were on the rise.
On feature writing, he advised the participants to maintain set standards. Unlike a news item, a feature was a write-up on a particular topic to highlight an incident, event, personality or place. While a news item is precise and factual, a feature provides details and background and may include pictures. Special focus should be on local issues. The writer should perform research to gain a strong background on the subject of his/her article. The article should be well presented and formatted for editorial purpose.
Three main sources of collecting information on features are through:
1. personal observation,
3. interview of at least three experts on the topic.
The success of the workshop was gauged through activities held during the workshop which included interactive group discussions amongst participants and between speakers and participants, question and answer sessions, presentation of finance projects for approval through CCBs, revision of the previous days’ discussions.
The results were determined as:
1.The journalists’ increased awareness of the importance of monitoring by resident citizens regarding development work at local level
2.Distribution and proper utilization of funds between the local residents and their government.
3.Journalists’ awareness of their importance in active participation of journalists in non elected bodies.
4.Feature writing and methods on successful coverage on local issues.
Certificates were presented by Muneer Ahmed Mangnejo to the participants at the end of the workshop. He praised the journalists of Naushero Feroze for their professionalism and impartiality shown in their work.
|List of Speakers|
District Information Officer
|Ghulam Hussain Mastoi||
Taluka Naib Nazim
|Sikander Ali Khushik||
EDO Community Development
|Pakistan Press Foundation|