Zimbabwe Environmental Journalists Association (Zeja) is planning to establish a school of environmental journalism as part of its grand strategy to broaden the scope and encourage proper environmental reporting in Zimbabwe and Africa.
The association that was launched by the Environment and Natural Resources minister Francis Nhema in Vumba, Manicaland Province on September 29 2011, has since put all the necessary documentation in place, for the successful launch of the Institute.
In an interview after the association's special board meeting was held in Harare recently, the board chairman Ismail Shillaev said the institute of environmental journalism would go a long way in providing relevant literature and readily available reservoir of skills and knowledge to needy environmental journalists in the country.
"As a body of environmental journalists in Zimbabwe, we are determined to set necessary institutions that provide the necessary skills and knowledge for journalists because we know that research and training are aids to proper reporting and they are solely based on skills and knowledge, hence the institute," he said.
"The world over, environmental journalism is poorly ascended and journalists find it very difficult to report factually on environment because of the scientific nature of the subject matter.
"It is against this background that we adopted this decision as a board to be our grand plan. We will be finalising the processes and modus operandi of all the necessary requirements soon," added Shillaev.
The Institute for African Environmental Journalism will be a training, research and conference centre for environment and related areas including climate change and the conservation of natural resources.
It will provide technical support to stakeholders and a platform for exchanging ideas for the development of our environment which, of late has come under serious anthropogenic practices.
Zeja national secretary-general, Gilbert Munetsi believes that the institute would, upon its establishment, provide courses that are relevant to environmental problems in the country and the region.
"We face almost similar environmental problems in the region, hence the need to design a curricular that has an inclusive approach to solving our environmental problems.
"Courses must strongly include mainstreaming environment and climate change in development planning and implementation" said Munetsi.
"Most of our journalists face environmental knowledge and reporting challenges in their daily work.
The institute, the first of its kind to be established in the country, will bring in a new paradigm shift in positive reporting to help in advocacy, education and information in Africa," he added.
Nhema, who is the patron of the association, will be presented with the implementation and operational document at the end of June for regularisation and endorsement.
Institution to be a panacea to environment journalism
Zeja Board member responsible for Education, Training and Fellowships Lizzy Mujuru said if the institute was established, it would be the panacea to most ills of environmental practices, reporting and treatment.
"This is the solution to most of our environmental practices, reporting and treatment.
Our environment is under siege and there is need to hasten all possibilities that can save it.
"The training and education component will sharpen our journalists with some special skills and inevitable knowledge about the environment that they have been longing for, for some time now.
"Upon its establishment, the institute will also provide conference services and act as an innovative ground for environmental research.
"It will also host international researchers, scholars and fellows from around Africa and the world ," said Mujuru