Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) organised a CSOs – Media Forum which brought together Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) representatives and media practitioners to open dialogue for strengthening their relations. The forum also aimed at forging long term CSO and media engagement in collectively contributing towards achieving sustainable development in the country, supporting one another to reach and change the lives of millions of people, especially marginalised groups and communities in Tanzania. The event was held on July 11, 2019, at the Royal Village Hotel in Dodoma. The Central Press Club (CPC) and the NGOs Network for Dodoma (NGONEDO) participated and collaborated in organising the event.
This dialogue session is the second in the series of forums to bring together the two actors. During her opening remarks, Special Seats Member of Parliament (MP) and Executive Director for Women Wake up (WOWAP) Hon. Fatma Tawfiq emphasised on the importance of strengthening CSO – Media relations.
‘’Media coverage of our work is currently low. CSOs contribute to improving the lives of many citizens at grassroots levels. Media involvement and coverage of our work informs the public of our interventions, achievements and raise awareness, providing them with insights into what we do for the community and the nation. The written word from a journalist can transform a community from one phase to the next. The coverage also improves our transparency. CSOs should involve journalists in the early stages of strategy development and implementation so that journalists are aware of the project interventions from the start.’’
Hon. Tawfiq also emphasised CSOs compliance with government regulations and laws. She said “CSOs work closely with the government officials during project implementation. Government Officials should be informed on project activities and the progress in the area of implementation. The government recently amended laws requiring CSOs to submit quarterly audited reports. I urge everyone to comply with the amendments.’’
The forum is also a platform for FCS to present findings on a study on the comprehensive assessment of media coverage of CSO issues in Tanzania that was commissioned by FCS.
In the introductory remarks, FCS Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning Advisor Mr Justice Rutenge presented an overview of FCS’s work stating how the forums link with the organisation’s core facilitative role for improved livelihoods. He said ‘’Our strategy focuses on facilitating partnerships to achieve development through linkages between development actors and CSOs. We also focus on advancing the CSO sector. We operate through grantmaking and capacity development of CSOs. Our focus areas include governance, livelihoods and markets. In advancing the sector, we conducted an assessment of the coverage of civil society organisations and their issues in the local media including print, radio, and television earlier last year. One of the insights recommended in the assessment was on improving CSO – Media relations, hence the direction of these discussions.’’
Over 60 participants from both the CSOs sector and the media participated in the session. The first forum was held for CSO representatives and media practitioners in Dar es salaam, thereafter a technical feedback session for the Tanzania Editors Forum (TEF) was hosted by FCS. The third series will be held in Zanzibar in August/September in collaboration with the Association of Non-Governmental Organizations of Zanzibar (ANGOZA) to bring CSOs in Zanzibar together with the media practitioners in the isles.