Evaluation: Journalist courses and support to public broadcasting in Somalia have been effective and respond to needs

6 helmi, 2018

An independent review says that Vikes is a unique actor in Somalia, and the work has been of good value.

“Based on the key findings, the project has been relevant, highly effective and efficient”, says an independent review of Vikes’s activities in Somalia.

In total, 26 trainings have been conducted across Somalia and Somaliland, reaching 681 participants in 2014–2017. Among local partners and beneficiaries, the project is described as one of the few media support projects in Somalia that has provided concrete and tangible results, tailored to the needs of the beneficiaries and reaching out to both government and private media outlets.

Besides the almost 400 journalists, also representatives from the police, judiciary and key ministries have received training on freedom of expression and respect for media rights. According to the evaluation, the approach has been ground-breaking by bringing together journalists and security officials and improving their respect for one another.

The project seeks to improve professionalism among Somali journalists and assist in the transformation of Somalia’s state media towards public service broadcasting.

“The project is relevant and aligns well with national priorities”, the evaluation states. “The project activities have been carried out through collaboration of Finnish specialists and Somali stakeholders in such a way that the project ownership remains in Somalia.”

Good cost-benefits ratio

As a result of the project, the first multi-camera TV studio in Somalia was constructed with modern news production and editing system.

The quality of SNTV news production has also visibly improved, says the evaluation report. Video and sound quality is more professional than before, and news inserts cover a wider range of topics. More investigative programmes and children and youth programmes have also emerged.

The evaluation notes that Vikes has been spending much less funds than other international media support organizations to provide quality trainings with noticeable results.

One of the key elements for the success of the Vikes project, according to the evaluation, has been the strong involvement of Finnish Somali diaspora throughout the project.

“By mixing a team of committed diaspora members and other Finnish professionals, Vikes has been able to manoeuvre through different cultural barriers and has gained valuable trust from local partners”, the evaluation says.

“Continue and spread the word”

The project’s long-term objective has been to promote the peaceful development of Somali society and to enhance citizens’ access to information. Somali media landscape is very fragmented, and to effectively assess the particular impact by Vikes interventions, a more thorough causality analysis would be required, the evaluation says.

“Nonetheless, the project interventions have certainly improved individual journalists’ skills, attitudes and ways of working. A more professional working culture has emerged, and a sense of pride and ownership is evident among the partners and trainees.”

Even so, the professional capacity of Somali journalists is still relatively low, as is their general understanding of media ethics, the evaluation notes. There is thus an evident demand for continued Vikes media support activities in Somalia, especially when making use of Vikes approach of peer learning and expert-to-expert exchange. Finnish journalists have trained journalists, technical experts have trained technical staff, and a Finnish senior police officer has trained local police commanders.

Logistical problems, lack of spare parts and a volatile security situation pose challenges to the work. Continuous efforts to assess and mitigate risks are also recommended in order to ensure safety and security.

Vikes media support project has been implemented with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland since 2014. The main partners are Somali National Television, Somali Ministry of Information and Public Awareness, and the National Union of Somali Journalists. After expanding the geographical coverage of the project in 2015, partnerships were also established with Somaliland Journalists Association and Media Association of Puntland. Several women journalist associations have likewise participated in the project implementation.

The project is also supported by FCA Finland, Nose Day Foundation, Finnish Broadcasting Company and Unesco. In 2018–2019, Vikes activities in Somalia are also supported by the European Union.

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