AUDA-NEPAD ABNE organized a 3-day biosafety communication and reporting training for media practitioners and communicators/scientists from Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) and Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), from 11 – 13 December, 2019.
With the final drafts of the legal instruments for biosafety regulation including the Biosafety Policy, Biosafety Law and Ministerial Order already validated by stakeholders, the current focus was to ensure the enactment process is guided by well-informed considerations. This entailed ensuring adequate understanding of and public awareness on biotechnology and biosafety issues by the policy makers and general public.
The Director General (REMA), Eng Colletha Ruhamya, gave the opening remarks at the training. A total of 28 participants drawn from 17 media institutions, and also from REMA and RAB, were empowered to adopt a structured approach to biosafety communication, exercise control on the delivery of key messages and ensure a continuous and systematic process of information sharing thereby addressing public misconception about products of modern biotechnology. The trained journalists admitted that the experience was the first of its kind, being a forum where journalists had opportunity to objectively interact with scientists, and enjoined AUDA-NEPAD not to relent in providing further support to strengthen biosafety communication in the country. Importantly, development of the biosafety communication strategy was initiated, with the participants highlighting the stakeholders, communicator groups and mode/means of communication.
The trained communicators committed to ensuring collaboration and objective exchange of information towards effective public awareness on issues of biotechnology and biosafety in Rwanda. Further support on strengthening biosafety communication capacity was a critical and consensus request from all participants, thereby reiterating the remarks by the DG, REMA. Support will also be provided for the drafting, finalization and implementation of the biosafety communication strategy as appropriate.
With the progress towards establishment of a functional biosafety regulatory system in Rwanda, increasing activism with associated misinformation coupled with low institutional capacity to communicate biosafety may erode enactment process. AUDA-NEPAD will therefore, continue to ensure further support is provided to strengthen institutional capacity in biosafety communication, in order to sustain the progressive momentum. Furthermore, AUDA-NEPAD will continue to support the political will expressed in Rwanda to enhance socio-economic development in accordance with Agenda 2063.