Human faces of avian influenza
Indonesian media join the fight

Just some of the many visitors admiring the results of the Human Faces of Avian Influenza projectJakarta, 19 December 2008
Established talents and rising stars from Indonesia's media celebrated the opening this week of an exhibition of work they had produced as part of a competitive media partnership project – Human Faces of Avian Influenza – organized by FAO and the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture.

Well-known Indonesian novelist/singer Dewi Lestari hosted the event at a packed Galeri Foto Jurnalistik Antara (Antara Gallery) in Jakarta. She was joined by the 13 successful media partners and an enthusiastic crowd of over 200 senior government staff, media professionals, representatives of international organizations, donors, artists and members of the public, for an evening of presentations, music, photographic and audio-visual exhibitions, and film screenings. The exhibition has already been extended beyond its initial three days due to very high popular demand.

Opening the event, Dr. Turni Rusli Sjamsuddin, Director of Veterinary Public Health in the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture, on behalf of the Director General of Livestock Services, Dr Tjeppy Soedjana, said that “with this programme, we expect to be able to develop avian influenza communication by focusing on those people who suffer the biggest losses and highest risks (because this will enable us) to gain greater awareness of the impact of AI in communities; communication allows interaction between disease control measures and livelihood/markets/cultural practices, and increases community participation in response to AI”.

The ‘Human Faces of Avian Influenza’ was launched in July 2008 to award mini-fellowships to media practitioners based in Indonesia in the fields of print, radio, television, video, digital/online media, photography and multi-media. The aim was to mobilise media professionals as catalysts in the communication and advocacy process; include the views and opinions of the communities most affected by or at risk from avian influenza in the communication process; and develop a range of high-quality media materials and outputs to create awareness of and change risky behaviour in relation to avian influenza.

Commenting on the media partnership initiative, Dr James McGrane, team leader of the FAO HPAI Control Programme in Indonesia, said that “with the threat of such diseases as avian influenza remaining and the advent of emerging or re-emerging diseases such as rabies, it is vitally important that the government, international community, donors and media work closely together to ensure that the people of Indonesia are aware of and able to protect themselves from such risks." The project, he added, "is one strategic measure in the direction of achieving this."

During the project, an Advisory Committee of senior government representatives, media professionals from national broadcasters and press, and FAO staff met regularly to consider applications, select media partners, conduct training and provide advice and support and to review completed assignments.

The successful media partners were selected from over 50 high-quality candidates by a panel whose members included Tjahjani Widiastuti of the Ministry of Agriculture, Memed Zoelkarnain Hassan (communication coordinator for the National Committee for Avian Influenza Control - KOMNAS FBPI), Oscar Mutuloh (photojournalist and head of the Antara Photo Agency), Emmy Fitri (senior writer for The Jakarta Post), Abduh Azis (head of the Jakarta Arts Council) and senior radio trainer Firmansyah.

For most of the selected candidates, the project was a passion," said Enrico Aditjondro, FAO National Media Liaison and Information Officer. Many had to work beyond their regular working hours in order to finish their products. The members of the advisory committee also willingly spared their precious time to attend the workshops and consultations. Watching them all work with such enthusiasm boosted our own work in making sure the media products looked good.”

The exhibition of the candidates' work was covered by Indonesia’s highest rated morning news programme and national dailies. Photographs, films, radio broadcasts and multi-media/written pieces produced by project participants will be disseminated through national media.

Commenting on 'Human Faces of Avian Influenza', Satyajit Sarkar, coordinator and team leader of the ECTAD Communication Unit (Avian Influenza) in Rome, said "more often than not, culture is viewed as a barrier to change, and the media are also seen as something to keep at arms' length. What this project has demonstrated is that if we engage with media persons in innovative ways, and if we offer them creative freedom, they will open up windows into local culture and practices which could actually help catalyse, rather than impede, change."

The media partnership project was funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), with additional resources and support provided by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Australian government's aid programme, AusAID.

For further information on the project, visit the project website at http://mediapartnership.wordpress.com or contact Ester Hutabarat, National PDSR Communication Officer ([email protected]) or Enrico Aditjondro, Media Liaison and Information Officer ([email protected]).

For further information on FAO's communication activities, please contact Anthony Burnett, Communication Support Specialist, RAP-ECTAD ([email protected]).


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