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Media as Disseminators of a Water Culture

Is it possible to improve the quality of news on water - from mere news bites to a more comprehensive approach where water is portrayed as an essential element of life, and hence the need to make it a priority?  Instead of sad and depressing stories, would it be possible to give hope and courage, and ideas on what to do?

In order to increase positive media coverage on water issues and improve transparency of water projects, WSP-LAC and the World Bank together with the Peruvian Ministry of Housing, Construction and Sanitation arranged a 2-day capacity building for journalists on the culture of water as the part of celebration of World Water Day 2007, on March 22.  Water and sanitation coverage is low in Peru (76 and 57%) compared with other countries in Latin America; in addition only 23% of waste water is treated.  

“Water journalism” is a new concept in advocacy, bringing in media as a key partner in the debate on issues of water scarcity, distribution, equity and ownership.  In this context a number of reporters were invited to take part in a media tour of selected water and sanitation projects in the country.  Among those who participated in this initiative were local reporters from The Economist; Peru 21; El Comercio, Caretas, Semana Economica and Radio Programas del Peru (RPP). The objective of the media tour to broadcast reporters is to scale up the potential audience who will be exposed to unique stories featuring key development messages regarding the culture around water. 

Case studies representing water and sanitation project served to illustrate water projects implemented by different partners.  In addition, field visits to relevant case study sites enriched the learning process through interviews with experts and dialogues with civil society, local authorities and other stakeholders.  An important objective of the field visits was to add a human dimension to the case studies by providing the views and opinions of the involved population.  Journalists visited the World Bank and WSP projects in northern Peru and the government’s projects in peri-urban sites in Lima.  

The journalist field trips are part of WSP’s efforts to support the Government’s initiative to improve knowledge on water issues. WSP supports the Government’s Culture of Water Initiative in general by assisting in formulating the communication strategy, message development, and financing a TV-program, among other things.  Also as part of World Water Day celebrations, WSP-LAC and the World Bank are supporting the Government to publish and disseminate a book of myths and fairy tales about water written by Peruvian children.  The Ministry of Housing, Construction, and Sanitation launched a writing competition nationwide and received more than 600 tales from different parts of the country from the coast, highlands, and jungle regions. The best fairy tales will be published on World Water Day, March 22.          

Contact Name: 
Beatriz Schippner
Contact Email: 
wspandean@wsp.org