To speak out and report about corruption can be risky in Zambia. The situation is exacerbated by citizens’ lack of access to information about the disbursement of public funds, which incapacitates their ability to follow the money, thereby making public funds vulnerable to theft. Bureaucratic obstacles as well as attitudes of over-protectiveness and suspicion frequently hamper free access to information. Additionally, Zambian journalists and human rights activists generally have little knowledge of how to access, assess and communicate information about government budgets. Journalism training does not allow for specialisation in economic or financial reporting.
Against this background, Fojo Media Institute, Zamcom and Transparency International Zambia piloted a concept in Lusaka called “Action for Transparency”, an approach to fighting corruption and mismanagement of government funds by putting the power to change in the hands of journalists, civil society activists and ordinary citizens. The Action for Transparency concept allows anyone with a mobile phone or acomputer with Internet access to check the amount of government resources pledged to each school and health clinic in the targeted district. If this doesn't match reality, it is possible to report it to the local organisations running the project via an app or the web. Almost 2,000 journalists, civil society activists and civil servants in the capital were trained to access, assess and communicate information on government budgeting. In 2014, a public awareness campaign was launched, promoting the app/web and inspiring journalists, civil servants, civil society activists and citizens to report on suspected corruption and mismanagement of public funds.
The trial project was implemented in Uganda and Zambia 2013-2016. The Action for Transparency concept has now developed and is presently being implemented in selected districts in Kenya, see here.
In another project, with funding from Sida, a 3-year series of in-house training, regional Training of Trainers for the Newsroom and business courses was designed using data from an in-depth consultation on training needs, launched at an international conference in January 2013. From 2013 to 2016 Fojo was working on this project with 14 independent exiled media outlets that broadcast and publish uncensored news to audiences in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tibet, Uzbekistan, Zambia, Zimbabwe and 3 media outlets that were in transition from exile to mainstream in Myanmar.