Image: Tom Jervis via flickr
As Sierra Leone prepares to get into offshore drilling, the nation's Environmental Protection Agency (SLEPA), the UN Environment Program and the World Wide Fund for Nature have recognized, if they can't stop it, the need to at least have quality local reporting on the issue. The three organizations hosted a three-day workshop to train and prepare 15 journalists in the country to report on key environmental issues and the effects of oil production.The workshop involved one day of travel, in a UN helicopter, to view offshore sites and to meet with people from local communities.
Workshop participants were introduced to topics including oil and gas exploration, oil spill prevention, governance and economics of oil and gas, and transparency and accountability, according to the Daily IIJ.
Simon Akam of Reuters helped to lead the training, along with Paul Siegel, marine conservation advisor at WWF and Haddijatou Jallow, executive chairperson at SLEPA.
Jallow said the media is a vital element of democracy and emphasized the importance for journalists of knowing the subjects they cover.
SLEPA's Dr. Koleh Bangura talked about the threats facing the Sierra Leone river estuaries from vegetation clearance and unsustainable fishing. He also talked about how the still-untouched areas of mangrove forest are important habitats that should be preserved and protected.