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Reliance on aid seen as challenge to media

in Arts & Culture

Reliance on aid seen as challenge to media

A lack of financial resources and subsequent reliance on foreign assistance have a negative impact on activities of media outlets and civil society groups in the country, participants of a discussion said on Thursday.

This week’s radio and TV programme, “Your Voice”, a joint initiative of the Killid media group and its partners — Pajhwok Afghan News and Saba Media Organistaion — within the newly-created Afghanistan Media Consortium, was attended by Ahmad Zia Riffat, a teacher at Kabul University and civil society activist, Farid Nekzad, a journalist and Gulalai Achakzai, the civil societies cooperation organistaion member.

Riffat said that civil society organisations faced a lot of problems in receiving aid from a donor because the aid-giving agency sought many things in return for their assistance.

“Producing something in line with the donor’s demand leaves media and civil society groups unable to give their production proper attention or filter it,” he said.

He said the media gave more importance to news-related things compared to civil society activities and as a result viewers were losing interest in perusing the media, which had so far rarely produced research-based reports on the activities of civil society groups.

The university teacher also believed civil society groups were losing their credibility and confidence in public for carrying out short-term projects. “Such projects are closed after one or two years without reaching the desired goals.”

Managed by individuals, he said, there were several media groups and civil society organisations that worked for the interest of their donors.

Calling a lack of collaboration between the media and civil society a major problem, he said both suffered due to the non-existence of cooperation with each other. Riffat divided the role of civil society groups into three categories – ineffective, less effective and very effective.

“Ineffective organistations are those that are doing nothing for the well-being of people, but have been able to win the confidence of their donors,” he said.

Gulalai Achakzai said although the civil society had some problems, the media had also been unable to raise the society’s voice in some matters in order to draw the attention of the authorities concerned.

“The civil society itself is grappling with some shortcomings, which has an impact on the media as well,” she said.

The civil society activist claimed the government and the media gave importance to the activities of city-based civil society groups and those out the city remained sidelined.

On lack of financial resources, she said it had a direct impact on the efficiency of civil society groups.

Farida Nekzad, however, said there has been complete cooperation between the media and civil society in matters of national interest. When President Hamid Karzai was to appoint new five commissioners at the human rights commission, a joint sitting of the media and civil society decided to consult the President in this regard, a move that showed cooperation, she said.

She called the reliance on foreign aid for civil society a big challenge, arguing until society stood on its own foot, cooperation among its groups would remain an unmet dream.

She said the media was a crucial part of the society, but it remained unaware of some of its activities.

To a question that how civil society groups could reach self-reliance and why they could not reach this target so far, Riffat blamed it on the lack of spirit for volunteerism. He said the media and civil society should jointly promote the culture of volunteerism.

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