By Sola Ogundipe and Chioma Obinna
The Nigerian media has been commended for its prompt and incisive reporting of issues affecting women and children in the country during the first quarter of 2011. The media also recieved kudos for eliciting appropriate response and interventions from the three tiers of government and relevant agencies.
UNICEF Communication specialist, Mr. Geoffrey Njoku who gave the Nigerian media the thumbs-up during a training programme on data-driven reporting for senior journalists held in Enugu, Enugu State, explained that UNICEF had mostly monitored media reports of health issues around polio, immunisation, education, malaria, HIV/AIDS, child trafficking, etc., but subsumed media reports of emergency situations under stories of child rights.
Njoku noted that UNICEF decided to pay attention to media reports of violent situations because of the upsurge of violence in the country.
He said: “Since two years ago, we found that there has been an upsurge in emergency situations such as cholera outbreak, communal conflicts and violent crisis which occur more frequently these days more than before and we then decided to unbundle it from categorising it with child rights as violence has become big issue of concern in our monitoring matrix.”
UNICEF-Nigeria observed from media reports that Nigerian women and children as common in many war situations are the worst hit during the violent crisis that have occurred in recent times, he said.
“In war situations and emergency situations, women and children being far more vulnerable than men in situations of violent conflicts like we had recently are more affected”, observed Njoku.
He said the reports in the media were essential on deaths of these women and children, about catastrophic situations such as the situations of women and children, reports of how bad the camps are for those displaced, reports on horrible situations on food, water sanitation and of course there were issues on protection of children as well.
“In violent situations, children suffer a lot and we need to put special measures to protect them against rape and to ensure that they go to school as well as do a lot of family tracing through working with agencies like Red Cross and National Emergency Management Authority, NEMA to ensure we provide the best we can for the affected”, Njoku explained.
Njoku also observed that the media was able to capture situations in which women were raped and killed citing the report on the rape and killing of a Youth Corper in the North as an example of how women were violated in crisis situations.
On safe motherhood, he also commended the media for its report on issues of maternal mortality and the situations in the Primary Healthcare Centres and the need to be more supportive and accessible to the clients across the country.
The Nigerian media has been able to assist UNICEF-Nigeria’s response capability to deliver intervention programmes to those in need with the types of reports featured especially about conflict situations, he stated.
“For us, our monitoring matrix is an advocacy tool both to the media and to the policy makers; on daily basis we share what we have with programme specialists in different areas so that they also know what the trends are, to consider whether the reporting was okay and that the journalist understands what he has written or still needs assistance in understanding issues that were being reported.”