Exploring the SADC Region
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) region comprises of 15 countries with a diverse range of culture and socio-economic issues. SADC countries tackle many social, development, economic, education, health and political issues. Covering these stories offers reporters a range of storytelling opportunities.
SADC Visa Requirements
Although SADC in place, protocols on tourism, travel and the facilitation of the movement of people, amongst others, there are still entry visa requirements between at least three SADC Member States and the other 12 mainly because of the pace at which they are concluding the bilateral agreements. Although some countries offer visas on arrival, media practitioners need to ensure they understand the specific requirements for each country ahead of their travels. Visitors’ visas may also have limitations on what activities can be conducted in the respective countries with regard to work and employment even on short term basis such as during a SADC Summit. It is therefore important to always find out what guidelines and limitations of the visitors’ visa before traveling to a country to cover a story. Visitor’s visa costs range from US$30 to about US$100 and may need to be backed by a range of supporting documentation.
It is wise to visit your doctor or a Travel Clinic ahead of any reporting trip to ensure that you are prepared for health eventualities. A number of countries now require a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate. Other possible vaccinations to deal with health concerns include Cholera, Polio, Meningitis and Hepatitis A.
Water borne diseases such as Cholera and Dysentery are prevalent in some areas and it is advisable to drink boiled or bottled water and avoid uncooked foods.
While many strides have been made in curbing Malaria, travelers are still advised to be cautious and, when travelling in Malaria-prone areas. These precautions include wearing appropriate clothing, using repellent sprays and creams, sleeping under nets and taking anti-malarial medication.
The official SADC languages are French, English and Portuguese but the region has a wide range of languages spoken in each country. Language can therefore be a barrier to reporting as the majority of the populations in the remote areas speak indigenous languages. This is often a challenge when covering developmental stories where the sources reside in rural areas of the region.
The SADC region has a network of air, rail and road travel but not all areas are equally reachable. Transport systems and networks to major cities and towns are easily accessible. However, the challenge arises when one wants to travel to the remote areas or areas on the periphery of the major cities. Air transport is only to the major cities, while buses out of the major cities to the rural areas, in some countries do not travel frequently by other standards where public transport is very developed. Among the options to explore are local public transport services or private vehicle hire.