United Nations Development Programme

Russian Federation


02.04.2010. Information is Key to Development of Chernobyl Affected Territories

In late March, over 30 journalists from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine gathered in the suburbs of Moscow for a training in the framework of a new three year UN project International Chernobyl Research and Information Network(ICRIN). During three days representatives of news agencies, newspapers, magazines, radio and television, primarily working in the territories affected by the Chernobyl accident, learnt new scientifically supported information on the consequences of the Chernobyl accident and the current situation. They had an opportunity to speak with experts and discuss subjects of interest with colleagues from other affected countries, as well as UN representatives specializing in this area.

The ICRIN project is implemented in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The aim of the project is to develop practical recommendations for the population of the territories affected by the Chernobyl accident on the basis of the latest scientific data and distribute the information among residents of respective regions.

It is hard to underestimate the role of local media in this process. In this connection trainings for journalists with participation of leading experts in healthcare, atomic energy, social and economic development were scheduled in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus in the framework of the project. The first training took place in Ukraine in December 2009.

At the Russian training, like earlier in Ukraine, presentations and discussions focused on two main topics:
- ecological, radiological and economic aspects of life on the territories affected by the Chernobyl accident;
- medical and social aspects; health and future of people living on the territories affected by the Chernobyl accident.

The training programme included theory (experts presentations, work with information materials, Q&A), creative tasks and practical recommendations.

Experts representing all three countries took part in the event. They included Valery Kashparov, Head, Ukrainian Research Institute of Agricultural Radiology, National University of Bioresources and Management of Natural Resources; Tatiana Marchenko, Head of Department for Eliminating the Consequences of Radiation Accidents and Catastrophes, RF Ministry of Emergency Situations; Irina Abalkina, Senior Researcher, Institute for Problems of Safe Nuclear Energy Development, Russian Academy of Science; Yakov Kenigsberg, Chair of the National Commission for Radiation Safety under the Council of Ministers, Republic of Belarus, and other experts.

The journalists were particularly interested in research findings related to the consequences of the Chernobyl accident for the population and the environment, as well as radiation risks, the level of contamination of the territories and agricultural products. The participants actively discussed myths and misconceptions related to the effects of radiation on health, as well as socio-economic prospects of the affected regions in the view of the recommended change of approach from providing benefits to fighting weak economy. Socio-psychological consequences of the accident and dealing with the culture of dependency were among the most interesting topics discussed at the training.

The participants found the training very useful. According to Svetlana Zotova, a Komsomolskaya Pravda correspondent from Tula, it was helpful as a chance for journalists to meet colleagues and experts at an informal level. The training helped me acquire new ideas for publications, not only about Chernobyl, but also about other subjects, she noted.

This was partly owing to a special session on new ways of covering socially significant campaigns and subjects basing on the example of the Chernobyl accident, presented by Vladimir Kasyutin, Secretary of the Russian Journalists Union.

It should be noted that activities of the International Chernobyl Research and Information Network (ICRIN) include not only work with journalists but also distribution of information in a comprehensible form through the educational system, trainings for teachers, medical workers and heads of local communities. UN agencies hope that this information and practical recommendations based on research data will help residents of the affected territories to have a safe and productive life, overcome fears and bring their lives back to normal.

For more information please contact Ekaterina Simko at 8 495 787 21 00 ext. 22 11 or by email ekaterina.simko@undp.org

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