Patricia Okoed-Bukumundhe, winner of the inaugural UNEP Young Environmental Journalist Award visited VOA and interned with English to Africa Branch, South Sudan Project, 12-18 October, 2011. She called it ‘a rewarding and invaluable experience to be part of a knowledgeable and diverse group.’
Ms. Okoed-Bukumunhe, a Ugandan national, currently works as a News Editor with the Internews Network in Juba, South Sudan. She is a broadcast journalist with 13 years experience in local and international media.
At the time of her YEJA win, Patricia was a News Editor and anchor at Capital Radio; a private FM radio station in Uganda. She has also freelanced with the English service of Radio France International and with ORF radio in Austria, handling features and magazine shows.
Her winning radio entry for YEJA described the far-reaching effects of climate change on Uganda’s environment and economy. Her six-minute piece broadcast on Radio France International covered the impact of increasingly erratic weather patterns on the coffee industry – Uganda’s largest export – and how the melting of snow on the peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains could damage the country’s tourism industry. The report also showed how climate change is putting increasing pressure on water supplies to Uganda’s homes and farms and contributing to a potential border dispute with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Patricia received the inaugural UNEP Young Environmental Journalist Award during the 26th session of the UNEP Governing Council / Global Ministerial Environment Forum at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, in February 2011.
In June, Patricia travelled to New Delhi to report on World Environment Day (WED) 2011, which was hosted by India. She attended the ‘Reporting Green’ workshop for environmental journalists and other WED celebrations in the city.
As part of her YEJA prize, Patricia took part in a professional study visit to the United States, following a specially-designed “green itinerary”. She travelled to several cities, interacting with environmental experts, journalists, scientists and public figures, and interned with VOA’s English to Africa Branch, South Sudan Project.
On Wed, Oct. 12, she met with the VOA Development and English to Africa management and staff, and had an introductory VOA Tour; next day, she was on a FPC Tour to the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, including the exhibition ‘Exploring the Early Americas.’
During her brief internship she was able to meet journalists from many VOA services and work on the following stories which were edited for broadcast in the “South Sudan in Focus” radio program:
1.’Launch of the USAID $54-million food security project in South Sudan’, interview with the Food for Peace officer for South Sudan – Alfred Osei.
2. ‘SPLA reaction to deployment of Ugandan troops to track LRA rebel leader in Uganda’, interview with a spokesperson of the South Sudan Army Col Phillip Aguer, about what the Sudanese army or the SPLA and the regional governments are hoping to gain from the American deployment.
3. ‘UNHCR on forceful repatriation of over 300 Eritrean refugees from Sudan’, interview with UNHCR spokesperson Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba.
In a parting note to her new VOA friends and colleagues, Patricia wrote, ‘Today is my last day with VOA. I thank you profusely for giving me the opportunity to work with such a dynamic and diverse team. Though short, the internship has equipped me with a priceless experience to see how VOA gets its product onto the airwaves.’