A network of 25 civil society organisations (CSOs) is now equipped with digital technology packages valued at a combined total of $420,000 TTD as part of the European Union–funded training programme CSOs for Good Environmental Governance.
Distribution of packages took place throughout the month of December at the office of The Cropper Foundation (TCF) which is the lead implementing partner for the training programme that seeks to build capacity for communities in Trinidad and Tobago to manage their natural environment. Many of the trainees who receieved the packages belong to CSOs based in rural communities where the effects of COVID-19 restrictions have been felt most acutely.
The CSO representatives will be using the new equipment to contribute to the Caribbean region’s first-ever environmental news network, powered by citizen journalists under the banner ‘Cari-Bois Enviromental News Network’.
All participating groups received a digital technology package containing one of each the following items: HP 14 Inch Laptop; Samsung A71 Smartphone; Smartphone Gimbal-Zhiyun Smooth 4; Zhiyun Gimbal Tripod; AuKing Portable; Mini Projector; Portable P.A System; Portable Power Bank; Kimafun Lavalier Lapel Microphone; 128GB Samsung Micro Card with USB hub.
Donna Mora who participated in the training as President of the Lopinot Tourism Association says she intends to use the digital technology to, “become a more proactive citizen journalist”. However, while environmentally focused citizen journalism is the primary intended function for the equipment, the CSO representatives will not be limited in how they can utilise the equipment for good causes.
Arlene Williams, President of the Las Cuevas Eco Friendly Association says she intends to help her group grow and also, “help others in need”. Goomtee Ragoobar, who is a member of Fishing Pond Farmers Association says that some of the digital technologies would be used to help secondary school students attend classes in Fishing Pond.
“Some of the children here don’t have laptops as their parents can’t afford the laptops in these COVID-19 times. One student has to go to the back of a neighbour’s house to get internet connection from another neighbour. We plan to use the laptop and projector to help multiple secondary school students attend online classes.”
Project Background CSOs for Good Environmental Governance
Over the past three years, The Cropper Foundation and its partners, Environment Tobago; Fishermen and Friends of the Sea, the Network of Rural Women Producers of Trinidad and Tobago; and the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union, have overseen the implementation of a three (3) year Action called ‘Enhancing Civil Society Capacity for Governance of Environmental Transparency and Accountability in Trinidad and Tobago’s Extractive Industries’ or CSOs for Good Environmental Governance. This action was supported by the European Union through a contribution of €428,000.00.
The project, that came to an end in December, 2020, saw civil society representatives trained to become more effective advocates for environmental protection within their respective communities, while also working with policy makers and the private sector to support a more transparent and accountable extractive sector in Trinidad and Tobago.
Over the course of the 3-year project, participants learnt how to better understand environmental legislation – particularly with respect to the impact of the extractive sector on the environment. They also learnt how to effectively lobby government officials, correctly navigate the interconnected web of state agencies with environmental oversight, progressively build networks for resource sharing and proactively engage the public using new media tools. Over 40 members of these CSOs received tailored training in citizen journalism which included learning how to write a news story, how to interview stakeholders and how to utilize different platforms to get a community’s message across to decision-makers.