The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on Monday (May 27, 2024) began a three-day capacity building training for selected Journalists in the five regions of the North to enhance the Media’s role in Fact-based Conflict-Sensitive Reporting and Information Hygiene for Peace in Ghana.

With funding support from the Australian Aid, German Cooperation, Embassy of Denmark, Accra and Norwegian Embassy, Accra, for the implementation of Atlantic Corridor Project, the workshop will expose participants to intensive training on Peace Journalism, understanding conflict and violence, conflict sensitive reporting and approaches to fact-based reporting.

Additionally, the training will also highlight the role Journalists are expected to play in contributing to a peaceful conduct of the upcoming 2024 general elections in the country.

In a speech presented on her behalf during the opening ceremony, the Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme, Dr Angela Lusigi said the UNDP recognizes the role that disinformation, misinformation, and hate speech can play in promoting electoral violence, hatred, and violent extremism, while undermining electoral processes and democratic values.

She highlighted the media landscape has evolved in scope and complexity. Across Africa, social media has emerged as a pivotal platform for journalism and information-sharing.

“Today, more than 400 million people use social media and 600 million people have access to the internet in Africa. While radio remains the most popular among news sources, 4 in 10 Ghanaians get news from social media and the internet, according to the Afrobarometer survey in 2023.”

Dr Lusigi added, “As a result, the widespread use of social media has given hate speech a much larger audience online. The role of journalists, bloggers, and other media outlets is crucial in this context. The media acts as a key source of information and has a significant influence on the public through its portrayal of events and perspectives.”

She emphasized that discriminatory views against minority groups published by the media could for example fuel harassment and intimidation, which may drive radicalization and violent extremism.

Executive Secretary of the National Media Commission (NMC), Mr. George Sarpong, in his remarks commended the UNDP for supporting the governance process of the country over the years.

He recounted a Peace Project the UNDP introduced during the Dagbon Chieftaincy stalemate in 2002 and how it impacted on national peace building and consequently the formation of the National Peace Council.

Mr. Sarpong further urged the participants to take the training seriously to transform their skills to make impactful contributions to national development.