In November last year, the Rwanda Environmental Journalists (REJ) network held its first environmental journalism training workshop, with support from Internews’ Earth Journalism Network’s East Africa Wildlife Journalism project.
REJ is the country’s only registered local media non-profit organization, founded in 2019 by a group of young journalists seeking to improve the coverage of environmental issues by the media in Rwanda.
“We are happy that now environmental reporters in the country have an opportunity to get quality training and mentorship,” said Daddy Rubangura, one of REJ’s founders.
The EJN-supported training was held in Musanze, a city at the foothills of the picturesque Virunga volcanic mountains. Twenty journalists from different media – print, digital, television and radio – attended the two-day workshop, centered around the illegal wildlife trade in Rwanda.
Participating journalists learned about the country’s wildlife protection policies and regulations, and had the opportunity to engage with experts from the Ministry of Environment, Rwanda Environment Management Authority, Rwanda Development Bank, Rwanda National Police and more. As part of the workshop, journalists visited Volcanoes National Park in Kinigi and the Gorilla Guardians Village – an initiative of former gorilla poachers who now showcase traditional Rwandan culture for tourists to bolster local gorilla conservation efforts.
“We rarely get these opportunities here in Rwanda,” said Yves Rugira, a journalist who works with Radio Salus. “The training was great in showing us about environmental and conservation challenges, and what the government and other stakeholders are doing to alleviate it.”
As part of the project, REJ hopes to conduct more workshops to train local journalists on environmental issues. They will also provide reporters with travel stipends and mentorship to investigate stories they would otherwise find difficult to cover.
Committed to empowering journalists in East Africa to tell more compelling stories on the environment, conservation and climate change, EJN is pleased to support a local Rwandan organization such as REJ, whose network can reach journalists who typically lack access to training and capacity-building opportunities.
“We had found it difficult to train journalists in Rwanda, mostly due to the language barrier, as most use their local language, Kinyarwanda,” said Kiundu Waweru, EJN’s East Africa project manager. “EJN and REJ both share the same mission: to improve the quality and quantity of environmental journalism,” he added.
Check the EJN website for more updates on our work in East Africa.
Banner image: Participants at REJ’s workshop in Rwanda / Credit: Aime Gerard Ufitinema.