FATA is the least developed region in Pakistan. Sixty-six percent of the population lives below the poverty line; an estimated 60 to 80 percent is unemployed. Beyond farming, smuggling and illegal drugs round out the region’s core industries. In an effort to defeat Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants, FATA has also been the target of United States military operations, which have killed an estimated 3,400 people since 2004 (research conducted in 2013) and kept the region in a cycle of violence.
Yet opportunities for change are on the horizon. The 2013 general election introduced Pakistan’s political parties to the region, granting communities in FATA national representation for the first time. But FATA remains media dark, with variable access to mobile networks and internet, along with tight restrictions on journalists. Recognizing the importance of independent, high quality media to the political process, Internews partnered with Reboot to explore opportunities for improving information access in FATA. Specifically, Internews sought greater insight into how FATA’s communities source, share, and verify information to inform the design of new media development programs targeting the region.