Building media capacity in South Sudan
Integrity recently concluded a project to help the Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) resume operations after a period of hiatus. AMDISS was founded in 2003 by senior South Sudanese journalists to address the news and information void in the country and to improve the capacity of local journalists to respond to the crucial issues of human rights, good governance, freedom of expression and democracy in this emerging nation. However, lack of funding forced it to scale back activities until Norwegian People’s Aid last year donated money for a new three-year project involving local and international organisations including Copenhagen-based International Media Support (IMS).
Today AMDISS is a member-based organisation headquartered in South Sudan’s capital city Juba. The membership includes many of the country’s leading editors and journalists who have joined together to offer common activities including journalism training, advocacy on issues relating to media development and dialogue forums. Of particular note are AMDISS’s efforts to ensure media legislation guaranteeing freedom of the press and freedom of expression is adopted soon by the newly independent South Sudan government.
Integrity helped AMDISS hire new staff members, develop project plans and priorities as well as set up a media and resource centre which provides a gathering place for the local and international press and provides a hub for AMDISS’s activities. The centre is a place for journalists to discuss debate and reflect. There are computers, wireless internet and a library with newspapers, books, reports and research materials.
Re-establishing the membership which had diminished during the period of inactivity was another project priority for Integrity which involved meetings with all the leading media houses, editors, journalists and international organisations including donors as the first step in establishing strategic priorities and ideas on sustainability which will ensure a smoother future for AMDISS in the years ahead.