An integrated multi-media portal on environment and sustainable development
From a poster-size wall newspaper to a magazine and from a high-standard magazine to now a news portal, Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists (NEFEJ) has come a long way in its endeavor of creating awareness on the issues of environment and sustainable development.
NEFEJ began its journey from ‘Batabaran’ (environment), a wall newspaper, which it sent out to districts and remote areas within the Kathmandu Valley to engage general public on environmental issues. Printed and designed at a low cost, this wall newspaper continued for quite some time. Later, NEFEJ decided to print a magazine which was named Haka-Haki (face to face). It also published few issues of Face to Face magazine in English. It wasn’t easy though, as it involved finances which were difficult to find. Despite that, NEFEJ managed to pull through the magazine by seeking funds from various like-minded national and international organizations.
But the magazine had to fold up due to financial constraints. Later, NEFEJ managed to find some support and revive the magazines, publishing Haka-Haki in Nepali every month and Face to Face English magazine every two months. Despite burgeoning number of newspapers and magazines in the country, these magazines managed to carve a niche in the market as these were the only magazines completely focused on issues related to environment and sustainable development. These magazines were popular among the policy makers, concerned stakeholders and the general public, and had been successful in influencing policy makers and communicating on issues related to environment conservation and sustainable development at the national and district level.
However, due to increasing financial constraint and non-availability of funding, the magazines were shut down. Printing these magazines had been too expensive, despite support provided by various donor agencies and like-minded organizations and even more difficult to sustain.
Thus, keeping in mind the rapidly changing technology and growing influence of internet, NEFEJ now plans to develop online news portal totally dedicated to the issues related to environment and sustainable development. The plan is to develop a multi-media portal on environment, making it a one-stop information gateway to the outside world. Nepal at present does not have any single portal where information related to environment and development is available.
Thus, we at NEFEJ, decided to bring together all our programs and products under one roof. The idea is to strengthen NEFEJ and enter into a new phase of communication medium where every product of NEFEJ will be included. All its products like Radio Sagarmatha, the first public radio in South Asia, Aankhijhyal, weekly video magazine which has crossed 1,059 episodes, NayaPusta, a short news-based video program for children broadcast three times a week, and now Paani, a weekly reality television involving local champions who are involved in the conservation of watersheds of Karnali, Mahakali and Rapti rivers in far and mid west Nepal.
All these programs will now be available in one click – at www.hakahaki.org. Besides, this portal will be gradually developed into a full-fledged information gateway on anything related to environment and sustainable development.
This integrated news portal will professionally educate the general masses, provide a platform for decision-makers to engage in dialogue, improve the understanding of issues related to environment. The portal will serve as an effective information vehicle catering to a wider group of audience, including the concerned government offices, schools, rural municipalities and municipalities and community networks at the project areas, as well as the concerned ministries, related departments and the parliamentarians as well as the donors and international communities.
Besides providing regular reports, features, interviews, photographs, radio programs and television programs currently produced by NEFEJ, including the contents like those of the now-defunct magazines in Nepali and English, the proposed portal will also include all the programs produced under the Paani Program.
Apart from covering all other regular issues on environment and development, special features will be developed and published online under Paani Program, including the radio programs and television reality television show. The news portal team will coordinate with the NEFEJ television and radio teams working under the Paani Program to produce these reports, features, interviews and photographs. Regular features will be posted on the lives and livelihoods of people living near the Karnali, Mahakali and Rapti river basins, highlight the activities implemented under the Paani Program, promote the local level leaders and highlight the efforts made by the local communities in preserving rich freshwater biodiversity in the above-mentioned river basins.
We are happy to inform here that development of this portal would not have been possible without the support from the Paani Program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Besides helping NEFEJ achieve its overarching goal of entering into a new media, Paani’s support has helped set up a separate portal which will remain a big asset for the organization and the readers even long after the Paani Program comes to an end. This would also help NEFEJ achieve its goal of educating the masses and continue raising the issues related to environmental conservation and sustainable development in the long run.
Though Paani Program’s support alone will not be enough to run the portal in a full-fledged manner, we will be seeking support from other donors and organizations to develop this site as a proper news portal.
The portal will be very helpful to bridge the gap in information flow as the TV and radio programs are more accessible on specific timings only. This will also help to increase the visibility of the mission’s goals and activities and would be reachable as per anyone’s wish.
Our main intention of this proposed portal is to develop it as the only multi-media portal in Nepal which would not only help us integrate all our activities under one roof but will also be a window for the outside world to understand the issues of environment and sustainable development in the country. This portal can and will serve millions of Nepalese as we have already been catering to the wide audience throughout the country.
For example, our weekly video magazine Aankhijhyal is aired on nationally televised stations like Avenues Television and Nepal Television Plus and has remained one of the most popular video magazines currently being produced and aired in the country as not many video magazines with special focus on environment and development are produced. It is important to mention here that Aankhijhyal recently crossed 1,000 episodes which is not only a record in the country, but could also be one of the longest running video magazines around the world.
Besides, NEFEJ has also been producing Naya Pusta, a special 5-minute news bulletin catering to kids in the age group of 8-16, and is aired three times a week on Avenues TV and NTV Plus. This has been produced since five years and has been one of the most popular programs for kids to understand the latest happenings in the country.
Our Radio Sagarmatha, established as the first public radio in South Asia in 1997, has made a mark in the development of radio communication in Nepal. Today, all the serious listeners tune into this radio in and around the Kathmandu Valley for the latest happenings and discussions on the topics on environment and sustainable development. Radio Sagamartha’s site is already popular among its listeners.
All of these products of NEFEJ have their own web presence. Bringing all these products under one roof and make them available at one click would help us spread our messages in an integrated manner. With the establishment of this portal, we would also be able to produce reports, features and interviews in an integrated manner using all different mediums of communication. Thus, we aim to develop this portal as the only multi-media portal in the country.
Our tag line – Read, Listen and Watch! Ignite your senses!
Shiva Prasad Oli