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New report shows how media covers water stories

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Reelforge Media Intelligence on Thursday released its ‘The Water Issue Report’ showing that stories on water shortages and drought received highest prominence in Kenya’s media between January 2017 and March 2018.

The report shows that water shortage received 32% of water related coverage followed by drought at 15% with drought related coverage being highest in the North Rift regions particularly in Turkana County.

The reappointment of Nairobi Water Company Managing Director Philip Gichuki in 2017 led to a strike of its workers that saw Nairobi receive high corporate themed coverage at 13% of the total coverage.

11 percent of reported cases were on water treatment following the outbreak of cholera while matters irrigation and floods managed nine percent and six percent respectively.

Focus on water conservation was high in the Lower Eastern region recording 33.5% of the total coverage on water conservation. This was slightly lower than the Nairobi region that received 38.1% of water conservation related coverage whose largest area of focus was corporate related matters which led the pack at 80.9% of all reported corporate issues.

There was higher coverage on matters of water conservation on print platforms (16%) than on TV and radio both recording 11%.

Of a total of 16,648 stories monitored, 2,022 were about Nairobi followed by Western Kenya at 1,232 while the Coastal region had the least water related mentions at 271.

High publicity on water related issues between January to April 2017 was largely due to water shortages in various parts of the country as a result of prolonged drought. The coverage decreased between July and September as focus shifted towards the general elections then drought that led to scarcity of water in December to February 2018 saw the coverage soar.

Reelforge’s Head of Research and Consulting Fred Otieno said that the issues given prominence by the media have a high influence on decisions made and actions taken on matters water management. “It is important that the fourth estate gives prominence to pertinent issues affecting the Kenyan society such as water and continue to ask the tough questions on water management and conservation efforts by all stakeholders.”

Reelforge’s Head of Sales and Marketing Lynette Thuo said: “It is important that this information gets to all stake holders involved in Water Management and Conservation. They need to be aware of the coverage of their projects, efforts and issues emanating within the water sector so as to respond accordingly.”

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“As the agenda setter, media has a role of highlighting pertinent issues such as water that often influence policy making leading to progress in the sector. Journalism has the power to bring up issues that subsequently became a priority on the policy agenda leading to substantial political changes,” she added.

Radio was the platform with the highest water related coverage at 60% followed by TV and radio with 23% and 17% of the total publicity volumes respectively. Among the stories that drove high coverage on Radio during the period under review included water shortages, diseases due to contaminated water as well as corporate issues.

This comes as the world celebrates World Water Day  under the theme ‘The Answer is in Nature’.

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BT Correspondent
BT Correspondenthttp://www.businesstoday.co.ke
editor [at] businesstoday.co.ke
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