Drought response blown out of proportion – PM

July 27, 2011 2:50 pm
Prime Minister Raila Odinga

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 27- Prime Minister Raila Odinga has faulted the local media for “misrepresenting facts” about the government’s response in mitigating the impact of the prevailing drought in the country.

Mr Odinga who spoke during the ground breaking ceremony for the Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communications censured the press for portraying the State in bad light in the face of the humanitarian crisis.

Mr Odinga said that the government had acted to its best ability to cushion affected people from the ravages of the biting famine.

“If you look at the reports in our local media then you see there is an attempt to put the government in the dock. If you contrast with the report on Al Jazeera, for example, they are saying that the governments of Kenya and Ethiopia have acted to mitigate the crisis!”

“We would have been dealing with a worse situation of more deaths if we had not acted; let us give credit where it is due. We knew there would be a drought and government has acted to mitigate the situation,” he said.

“It is just that sometime we run out of supplies and when we want to bring in more we encounter negative sentiments about maize being GMO and the shipments take a lot of time at the port,” he added.

The premier was reacting to recent press reports to the effect that the maize expected to bridge the food deficit was Genetically Modified (GMO) and which sparked debate over its safety.

Mr Odinga asked the local media to uphold ethics and traditional values of respect, honesty and fairness in its coverage. The PM also urged the institutions training journalists to ensure that they emphasise on integrity and accuracy in reporting and in the search for the truth.

The PM said he was hopeful that the new media training institution will instil in journalists the need to commit to professional standards in their work.

His Highness The Aga Khan, who is the chancellor of the college expressed optimism that the institution would go a long way in improving the standards of Journalism in the East African region.

The Aga Khan also expressed optimism that the African continent will benefit hugely from the development and transformation in the multimedia platforms and entrepreneurship in the media sector.

“Our first obligation is to present a story correctly but we must also establish a culture of responsibility within every media establishment.”

“The years immediately ahead will be of breathtaking change for Africa and for the field of media. I believe that Africa can emerge from this transformation as the home of some of the most capable, innovative constructive and respectable media enterprises in the world,” he said.

“One word that will underline all that we undertake in this school is quality. I want that when people look at this institution (they) see the dedication to uncompromising quality,” he asserted.


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