The documentation workshop held in November 2016 in Kenema, Sierra Leone, inspired another IFAD-funded project in the same country, the Smallholder Commercialisation Programme (SCP-GAFSP), to take this approach further and include rural people involved in the project activities in their communication activities. This emerged from the realisation that the existing rural radio programmes supported by the programme have so far not included the voices of beneficiaries. In December 2016, SCP-GAFSP started building a group of community-based journalists with a strong background in gender.
The first four Community Gender Journalism workshops were held throughout the country. Each lasted 2.5 days, and covered the basics of documentation and journalism. The Department of Mass Communications at the University of Sierra Leone supported the training with sessions on packaging information for interesting stories, interviewing skills, and ethics in journalism. In addition, several of the GALS champions trained in November played a supportive role as co-facilitators. In a refresher training held in February 2017, the Community Gender Journalists were taught more on gender equality and being gender-sensitive reporters.
The training was built on the conviction that the voices of beneficiaries need to be central in the communication of the IFAD-funded programmes. It strengthened the skills and confidence of these beneficiaries to share their experiences and opinions nationwide. (Again, by using drawings rather than writing, it allowed for the inclusion of those who are not comfortable reading and writing.) The new skills of the Community Gender Journalists was put into practice straight away, as the SCP-GAFSP calls upon them in their weekly radio programme. The improved information gathering and reporting skills of the Community Gender Journalists can also be used by the project, M&E officers and technical staff to gain more insight in the problems and needs of project beneficiaries.