In order to improve the writing and communications capacity of its partners in the Mekong region, IUCN is organizing a series of 2-day training workshops. The first was in Yangon in February.
Fourteen participants from eight members of the Myanmar Environment Rehabilitation-conservation Network (MERN) attended the Yangon workshop, with many staying for a few extra days to benefit from one-on-one training.
By the end of the workshop, participants had made tangible progress with their writing and produced articles that were worthy of publication; even attracting praise from a local journalist who attended.
The Yangon workshop was made possible by funding from the EU as part of an IUCN and MERN project to build capacity and strengthen the voice of MERN's 21 member NGOs.
Run by Jack Laurenson, an experienced reporter, editor and communications specialist based in IUCN’s office in Hanoi, the workshop had a special focus on journalistic writing.
Much of the training emphasized writing web articles and summarizing experiences and observations from the field. There was also time to discuss how social media and other online presences can be expanded and improved.
A lot of time was spent reducing jargon and overly technical or scientific language, making reports less academic and more reader-friendly.
For many participants, the training came at an important time as they tackle issues that are difficult to communicate to non-specialist audiences, especially when writing in English rather than their native language.
The Yangon workshop was attended by MERN members Friends of Wildlife (FOW), Mon Social Development Network (MSDN), Network Activities Group (NAG), Forest Resource Environment Development and Conservation Association (FREDA), DEAR Myanmar, Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA), and Mangrove Service Network (MSN), as well as the MERN Secretariat.
Participants were mentored and supported as they wrote about issues such as drought, mangrove conservation and initiatives to protect their country's growing list of threatened species. They learned about new writing techniques and approaches and received direct feedback and support on difficulties they experienced in their writing.
“It's great to get this kind of training from IUCN,” said Yuzana, a participant from MERN. “We've never really been taught to write like this, so it's important.”
“Engaging more and more with the outside world is very important as Myanmar begins to open up in the future,” said Thawdar Nyein from FOW.
“So we're very happy to welcome trainers and experts from outside our country who can help us improve our work,” she added.
Building on this experience, IUCN organized a similar event in Phnom Penh in March and will return to Myanmar in April.
For the workshop report, please see HERE
This story is based on the results of a small grant project financed by the EU through its Non-State Actors project Building Capacity and Strengthening Voice of Local NGOs for Improved Environmental Governance in Myanmar (DCI-NSAPVD/2013/316-838), which is implemented by IUCN and MERN.