By Milca Chimbanga Manyozo, MANA
South African Development Community (SADC) member states have been tipped to invest in media and advocacy programmes to increase the body’s visibility and spur success of the region’s integration efforts.
Speaking during SADC National Committees (SNC) Symposium in Beira Mozambique recently, a Zambian civil society organisations’ representative Juliet Ilunga noted that advocacy was essential in addressing member states’ development challenges.
Ilunga said little information is provided to the masses on various SADC and development programmes targeting people at grassroots level.
“We have very good projects including those on infrastructure; however, it does not make sense if people who are intended to benefit from these projects are not aware,” she said.
To this effect, Ilunga said advocacy would help people to understand the economic and social benefits of the regional integration, thereby ensuring their support and participation.
“There is need for governments and all relevant stakeholders to support advocacy programmes with the necessary resources,” she said.
Director of Programmes for Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) Dr. Robson Chakwana also acknowledged the importance of the advocacy programmes in the SADC integration agenda.
“Currently, SADC is working with media coordinators who are expected to initiate publicity of SADC through efforts such as the media summit awards, where we award journalists for coming up with stories to popularise the SADC agenda.
“We also have the SADC Success Stories Magazine which covers various stories on SADC projects from the region,” said Chakwana on the sidelines of the symposium.
The magazine highlights different projects being implemented by member states in efforts towards integration of the SADC region.
SADC Deputy Executive Secretary responsible for Corporate Affairs Ambassador Joseph André Nourrice said the Success Stories Magazine is significant as it has potential to attract the commitment of the member states towards the regional integration.
Among other things, the magazine highlights remarkable projects in sectors such as infrastructure, trade and industrialization, finance, peace and security, climate change, water management, agriculture and transfrontier conservation.
Some SADC member states including Mozambique and Zambia have localised the publication, which they use to increase awareness of SADC programmes in their countries.
For further popularisation of the regional integration, some member states also hold annual celebration of the SADC Day.
The SADC National Committee (SNC) symposium was held under the “Strengthening the National-Regional Linkages in SADC”.
During the symposium, SNCs from Zambia, Mozambique, Lesotho, Malawi, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo and Eswatini met to share practical lessons and best experiences for the better implementation of the SADC integration agenda.