Making Every Voice Count in Liberia

From reporting on teenagers promoting reproductive health in Grand Gedeh to the provision of safe drinking water in Bomi, a new network – Local Voices Liberia – is helping journalists across Liberia share stories about what is happening in their communities.

The network, which is accredited by the Liberian government, is dedicated to representing the voices and issues of residents in underrepresented and marginalized rural communities.

The group’s mission is to make sure that “every voice is counted in the governance and development of the country,” says executive director Moses Garzeawu.

The Local Voices Liberia journalists were trained under Internews’ project in early 2015 to help combat the spread of the Ebola virus. Under the USAID-funded project, Internews brought together 16 reporters mostly from rural or community radio stations, for a four-week training in basic skills in humanitarian reporting and mentoring. The project also was designed to equip journalists and support them throughout their reporting on Ebola and other health issues.

Many of the earlier stories on Local Voices Liberia dealt with Ebola and trying to address rumors and misconceptions. For example, journalist Moses Geply wrote about the rumor that people were getting the virus from consuming local vegetable oil and salt. Local people also feared getting treatment from certain clinics, claiming that injections carried the Ebola virus.

More current stories focus on other health issues as well, including a story by Eric Opa Doue about a female county chief who is promoting education for girls and trying to curb the rate of teen pregnancy.

The news is currently provided only online but is expected to extend to radio and television. The group will also hold town hall gatherings on issues related to development of the local communities, by bringing face-to-face the reporters and the affected populations.

The project, headed by Internews Innovation Officer Anahi Ayala Iacucci, not only provides training, but equips journalists and supports their coverage of the outbreak and other health issues.