12 Aug 2011 - Story by Francis Xoagub
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ONDANGWA - Renowned environment and conservation journalist, Absalom Shigwedha, has urged learners at Nangolo Senior Secondary School at Ondangwa to take an interest in environmental journalism as it is a career with boundless limits.
Shigwedha, a freelance environmental journalist, has written award-winning articles on the environment. He believes in the importance of well-reported environmental news around the world.
During his recent visit to the school, he told learners about his experiences in environmental journalism and the importance of journalists to report on environmental issues and career prospects in the field.
He spoke about schools and educators that can prepare the next generation of journalists for a career in environmental conservation.
"Communication plays such an important role in our everyday society, not only in Namibia. but in the whole world," Shigwedha told New Era.
"Our environment is the only one we have and unfortunately, it is linked to our everyday problems. Water pollution lead to wetlands contamination, desertification is a result of people cutting down trees and overgrazing, loss of biodiversity and climate change are just a few of the problems we are facing today."
The initiative is financially and materially supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) -Global Environment Facility's Small GrantsProgramme and Namibia Breweries.
Shigwedha, who is also the founder and chairperson of the Network for Media for Environmental Journalist in Namibia said: "It is high time we realise the importance of environmental journalism. Environmental journalists should have the ability to communicate all that information to the general public in such a way that it can easily be understood despite its complexity."
Unlike western nations, where environmental journalism is given much importance, the growth of this field in Africa is rather slow. There are various reasons for it.
Firstly, environmental issues in Africa are so complicated, involve corruption, unbalanced growth and lack of awareness that media finds it difficult to take a stand on such issues.
According to Shigwedha, the challenge for environmental journalists today is not to focus on sources but on the public. Environmental journalism can be very technical, slanted and even biased if reporters use certain kinds of language. Consequently, the task at hand is to send a final product to a reader that is reliable, relevant and relatable.
"Human beings and other living species depend on the natural resources found in the environment. Therefore, if we destroy the environment it will be at our own peril," he warned.
Apart from five environmental awards, Shigwedha is also the 2009 recipient of World Wide Funds (WWF) Prince Bernard's Scholarship for Nature Conservation.