Columnists Features

Community media vital for development

Zambia Bureau of Standards by HAZEL ZULU
ON JULY 23, 2015, the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) yet again met one of its key stakeholders, the media, to train journalists in standardisation, quality assurance and metrology.
The workshop was aimed at sensitising the public through the media, particularly community media, about the critical role ZABS plays in national development.
The Bureau invited 20 journalists from various community media radio stations across the country.
This interaction was worthwhile to us because we realise and appreciate the unique role that community media plays in national development.
You will agree with me, dear reader, that the media is a primary stakeholder in information dissemination.
And it is against this background that the meeting resolved that any organisation that will deliberately ignore the media in their communication campaigns would be doing a disservice to itself.
Worse still, it will be denying its stakeholders and the general public one basic right, the right to information.
We also agreed that if the media is used effectively, our information dissemination programmes as organisations will bear fruit.
ZABS is a national standards body created by an Act of Parliament, Cap 416 of the Laws of Zambia, whose core mandate is to formulate national standards, conduct quality assurance and provide calibration services. We met the community media to explain in detail why ZABS’ mandate is critical to this nation. We have realised that an informed media will deliver the right information to our stakeholders.
You will recall, I hope, that we have in previous columns talked about the fact that ZABS develops standards and ensures their implementation. But why is that necessary and how does it impact the lives of the people we serve?
How does the use of standards affect my life and your life? What would happen in a situation where there were no standards?
A standard is a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose. Standards ensure that products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality.
They are, therefore, necessary for both the manufacturer and the consumer.
Standards are documents developed that describe good practices in the country.
They bring order in a given society. The need for standards, therefore, cannot be overemphasised.
Let me remind you, dear reader, that standards are developed to serve three major purposes.
They are established to safeguard public health, public safety and to protect the environment.
And I know that you will agree with me that public health and safety should be top on the agenda of every government. And for this reason alone, it becomes imperative, that they are in place to bring order to any given society.
In view of the above facts, as a standards body, we believe that it is important to ensure that all the activities that we are undertaking are brought to the public fore because they are of public interest.
There are so many activities that we are engaged in to ensure that the products or goods that are found on the market are not only safe but of the right quality so that consumers get value for their money.
ZABS also implements quality assurance schemes where products are inspected and in some cases, subjected to laboratory tests to ensure they are safe for human consumption and use.
Without question, the media, dear reader, is a critical partner in information dissemination, for it is only through the media that effective mass communication can occur.
We know that there is still an information gap between ZABS and some of its stakeholders, and our courting the media is a strategy to ensure that we reach all our stakeholders with the right information.
We know that an informed media will effectively transmit the right information to the public. We look forward to a fruitful interaction with you through our all-weather friend, the media.
The author is head for marketing and public relations.
Contact the director,
Zambia Bureau of Standards,
Lechwe House, Freedom Way,
P.O Box 50259,
Tel: 260-211-231385,

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