JIS News

The link between population and development is the focus of the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) 2008 Population Awards, formerly the Caribbean Media Awards.
This year, the Awards will seek to highlight the work of journalists in print, radio, and television, as well as, one individual or non-government organisation (NGO) that has implemented a population or development issue that has had an impact on the quality of life of the people of the region.
Speaking with JIS News, Director, UNFPA Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean, Harold Robinson explained that the aim of the awards is to recognise the works of the many journalists who continue to build awareness of important population issues and to promote the importance of these issues.
“We recognise the role of the media in providing information, and their impact on behaviour change and so we want to promote the media’s work in this area and at the same time recognise their important contribution,” he said.
“Many of our topics require advocacy and it is very important that the media brings to the public domain issues that are sometimes sensitive and not easily brought up for discussion,” he continued.
Forming part of the overall theme are issues dealing with population data collection and analysis – such as reproductive health surveys and contraceptive prevalence surveys, the integration of population issues in development frameworks, and population dynamics.
Mr. Robinson said the integration of population issues in development frameworks is imperative for proper planning and commended those journalists, whom he said continue to inform the population of these issues.
“We hope that the awards will have an immediate effect on media personnel by bringing their attention to the issues and that they will therefore expand coverage of these issues,” he stated while expressing the hope that policy makers and those who develop programmes would take note of these issues and incorporate them into development policies.
Award aspirants may also submit works that focus on population issues such as poverty and fertility at the micro level, and how individuals, women and couples are making decisions about the timing, spacing and the size of their own families that affect their success in overcoming poverty. These decisions, Mr. Robinson said, can determine the quality of life that those individuals will experience.
Macro issues such as the impact of poverty on population growth, as well as the impact of population growth on poverty, social services, particularly health and education services and facilities, transport, telecommunications infrastructure and housing also form part of the population and development theme. Population aging and migration and their impact on the Caribbean region are also included.
While commending journalists for their work in reporting on population and development issues over the years, Mr. Robinson noted, “we have seen an increase in the number of stories that have covered some of these issues in-depth. However, there is need to continue to cover and include new areas and to deal with information related to sensitive areas and to be informed of the different countries’ perspectives on like issues.” He said there is scope for improved coverage as it regards quantity and quality.
In acknowledging the role that the UNFPA will have to play to strengthen this focus, Mr. Robinson announced, “next year we want to begin early with some workshops, as some of these topics require some basic technical understanding and we have the responsibility to provide that understanding.”
The UNFPA Representative is encouraging journalists, individuals and NGOs of the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean to begin to submit works on population and development-related issues published between October 1, 2007 and August 12, 2008 to meet the September 12, 2008 deadline.
The awards ceremony will be held on November 28, 2008 in Paramaribo, Suriname.