Mozambique: U.S Ambassador Launches New Media Programme

Maputo — The United States government on Thursday launched in Maputo a Programme for Strengthening the Mozambican Media, intended to help the media provide high quality information to citizens, to improve the government's accountability to the electorate, and to promote a free, open and sustainable environment within the media.

This is a five year programme supported by the US government via the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and budgeted at 10 million US dollars. The programme will be run by a US not-for-profit organisation, IREX.

On its web page, IREX describes itself as an organisaton that provides "thought leadership and innovative programmes to promote positive lasting change globally".

"We enable local individuals and institutions to build key elements of a vibrant society: quality education, independent media and strong communities", IREX claims. "To strengthen these sectors, our program activities also include conflict resolution, technology for development, gender and youth".

The list of donors to IREX includes USAID, the US State Department, several US embassies and the British Foreign Office.

The Programme, launched by US ambassador Douglas Griffiths, stresses professional training, technical support and strategic interventions through "directed consultancies" and other activities intended to have a high impact on the Mozambican media.

"We are enthusiastic about supporting the Mozambican media through this important programme, and we hope it will contribute towards building strong, effective and essential media which can encourage the emergence of well-informed people able to participate in defining the country's development agenda", said Griffiths.

The director of the Mozambique programme, Arild Drivdal, said the take-off is scheduled for next year, and that it will open a broad training space for media professionals, and for the managers of media companies.

He added that an international specialist in investigative journalism will come to Maputo to give a series of courses on the best practices of other countries, thus contributing to strengthening the knowledge base for investigative journalism in Mozambique.

The programme also seeks to set up a legal aid fund, to support journalists who are sued because of their work. This initiative will go alongside the establishment of a support network among professionals so that any violation of the rights of an individual journalist is seen as an attack against the freedom of the press in general.

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